Manchester City visit the Bernabeu on Wednesday looking to book their place in their first-ever Champions League final when they take on Real Madrid in their semi-final second-leg tie.
Both teams have it all to play for in the Spanish capital after last Tuesday’s 0-0 first-leg stalemate at the Etihad Stadium, with England goalkeeper Joe Hart producing a handful of crucial late saves to prevent Zinedine Zidane’s side snatching an away goal, or two.
An understrength Citizens side lost 4-2 at the weekend to Southampton in the Premier League, but boss Manuel Pellegrini is expected to recall key players such as Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero after the trio were rested on Sunday at St Mary’s Stadium.
Tonight’s victors will face La Liga joint-leaders Atletico Madrid in the final inside Milan’s San Siro on May 28 after Diego Simeone’s side brushed past FC Bayern Munich on away goals (Agg 2-2) on Tuesday night.
City, who currently sit fourth in the Premier League standings, are currently unbeaten in six Champions League matches – their longest-ever run in the competition.
However they have lost three of their last four European visits to Spanish opposition in this tournament, although they did prevail victorious in their last trip at Sevilla during the group stages earlier this season.
Citizens boss Pellegrini will be hoping top goalscorer Aguero, who has bagged 28 goals in all competitions so far this term, can halt his Champions League goal drought having not scored since February against Dynamo Kiev in the last-16.
In fact, the Argentina ace has failed to register a shot on target in the competition for over 430 minutes.
Meanwhile Madrid’s most dangerous threat is back from injury, having missed the first-leg encounter at the Etihad last week.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the Champions League’s all-time top goalscorer with 93 strikes, has seemingly fully recovered from a hamstring strain and trained with the rest of his teammates on Monday.
The former Manchester United forward, has netted 47 goals in all competitions this campaign, is also this year’s leading scorer in the European elite-club competition with 16 strikes – just one shy of his own record set back in 2013-14.
The only previous competitive meeting between Madrid and City at the Bernabeu was during the group stage of the 2012/13 competition, where the English outfit twice lead through goals from Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov, but eventually lost 3-2 thanks to a stoppage-time winner from none other than Ronaldo.
Ex-player and Champions League winner Zidane will be hoping to guide his men to a 14th final in the competition as they look to extend an unbeaten nine-game run against English sides in the Champions League.
Despite Ronaldo being back, boss Zidane confirmed Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema is a doubt after limping off in the first-leg clash with a hamstring problem.
Defensive midfielder Casimero is also facing a race against time to take to the field tonight after suffering a knock against Real Sociedad at the weekend.
Meanwhile for City, fellow midfielder David Silva (hamstring) is certainly ruled out, whilst Samir Nasri is ineligible.
However manager Pellegrini is poised to recall a host of key players that were rested during their weekend visit to Southampton – including the likes of Kompany, De Bruyne and Aguero.
Midfielder Yaya Toure also trained on Tuesday having missed the past two games with a thigh injury.
Unfortunately defender Pablo Zabaleta looks to be sidelined for the next three weeks after admitting he had torn a muscle in his left calf.
League Position: Real Madrid – 3rd (La Liga – 84 pts); Man City – 4th (Premier League – 64 pts)
Previous Meeting: Man City 0-0 Real Madrid – April 26, 2016 (Champions League)
Form: Real Madrid – WWWWDW; Man City – WWDWDL
Key Men: Real Madrid – Cristiano Ronaldo; Man City – Sergio Aguero
Shoot Says: Real Madrid 2-1 Man City