Real Madrid vs Man City Odds, Pick, Predictions | Champions League Match Preview

Real Madrid vs Man City Odds, Pick, Predictions | Champions League Match Preview article feature image

Flor Tan Jun/Getty. Pictured: Jude Bellingham.

Real Madrid vs Man City Odds, Pick

Tuesday, Apr. 9
3 p.m. ET
Real Madrid Odds+170
Man City Odds+150
Over / Under
 -138 / +110
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Real Madrid and Man City will meet in the Champions League for the third consecutive season and fourth time in the last five years. These two titans have won the last two titles of Europe's premier competition, and they have provided some of the most dramatic matchups in the entire European season for multiple seasons now. Manchester City enter the tie as the clear market betting favorite once again, but that hasn't stopped Real Madrid from pulling off their famous 2022 comeback or holding City to a draw in the first leg as an underdog last year.

City may be the treble winners from last season, but their results resumé is severely lacking in high profile wins this season. Manchester City have played seven matches against Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs in England and haven't won any of them. While Pep Guardiola's side has been dominant in the Champions League thus far, their path to this quarterfinal hasn't been particularly difficult. City beat Young Boys, Red Star Belgrade, RB Leipzig and Copenhagen en route to this clash that begins in Madrid on Tuesday and will conclude in Manchester next Wednesday.

Real Madrid scraped by their round of 16 matchup with RB Leipzig, 2-1 on aggregate, despite barely outplaying the German side at all over the balance of the two legs. Madrid's defense has made real improvements in the second half, and they'll face their most difficult test of the season now that Phil Foden, Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne are all fit and firing for the Cityzens.

Here's my Real Madrid vs Man City pick.

Real Madrid

Real Madrid's defensive numbers in the second half of the La Liga season are quite encouraging for their chances of holding out a potent Manchester City attack that can hit you in different ways. From the beginning of the season through Jan. 1, Real Madrid conceded an average of 1.1 expected goals per match in Spain. Since the turn of the new year, that number has lowered to 0.8 per match. Those major improvements have helped them continue to win week in and week out in La Liga even as Jude Bellingham's unsustainable early season goal scoring run has cooled off.

It's especially impressive given the injury crisis that Real have dealt with at center back. Aurélien Tchouaméni played a handful of matches at center back due to the crisis, but now Real Madrid are close to full fitness amongst their defenders. Antonio Rudiger, Nacho and Éder Militão are all fit for selection by Carlo Ancelotti, which enables Tchouaméni to play in his preferred defensive midfield role. Ancelotti is known for his Real Madrid side being tactically quite flexible and willing to play different styles to match the opponent. It's made them so dangerous in these knockout tournaments as a result, where Real Madrid easily pulled off comebacks against Liverpool, Chelsea, PSG and others in the last few seasons.

It was interesting to see Ancelotti take such a reserved tactical approach in the second leg home against Leipzig, and that could provide some instruction of how he sets them up in this match. Real Madrid took almost no chances in possession against Leipzig to prevent quick transition and counter opportunities.

Even though Manchester City are likely to have more of the possession than Real Madrid in this match, City defenses have been allowing their opponents more time on the ball than past versions of City. This version of City doesn't press and suffocate opponents with the same fervor of years past. That will give an option to Real Madrid as to how much risk they're willing to take with the ball, and how many players they'll send forward. As dangerous as Vinicius Junior, Bellingham and Rodrygo are on the break, City will constantly have players behind the ball regardless of how many they attack with in possession.

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Man City

Manchester City enter this tie on a 21-match unbeaten run in the Champions League, which dates all the way back to their 3-1 semifinal loss in the second leg in Spain to Madrid two years ago. Since then, they completed an unbeaten title campaign last year (13 matches) and have won all eight contests in this year's European campaign.

Guardiola was quite cautious in the first leg at Real Madrid last season, and injuries to both Nathan Aké and Kyle Walker lead me to believe he'll be quite cautious again in his approach to this match. Guardiola played four center backs against Arsenal in the goalless draw two weeks ago, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he played a similar back four on Tuesday. Manuel Akanji, Joško Gvardiol, Ruben Dias and John Stones are all fit in the back line, with the chance of youngster Rico Lewis filling in for Walker on the right to deal with the elite pace and dribbling quality of Vinicius Junior.

Last season, Manchester City had just 19 touches in the Real Madrid penalty area in the first leg, which was the fourth-lowest of any match they played in all competitions. The only matches with fewer touches were City's second leg against Bayern (already up 3-0 on aggregate), the away match to Copenhagen (dead rubber plus early City red card) and the final against Inter Milan.

Real Madrid vs Man City

Betting Pick & Prediction

The under is now 28-7-1 (80%) in the Champions League first leg knockout ties since the away goal rule was abandoned ahead of the 2021-22 European season. Given that Manchester City aren't pressing as much as years past, Real Madrid won't want to lose the tie on home soil, City are likely to be extremely cautious in possession with how many players they will send forward and this is a first leg, I'd bet the under and expect a lower event first leg.

If there are going to be fireworks across the 180 minutes, Real Madrid are much more likely to take risks on the road in Manchester, when the pressure is fully on the Cityzens. Last season's first leg ended 1-1 with two incredible finishes from Vinicius Junior and De Bruyne from outside the penalty area, but there was little else created in the matchup.

Real Madrid's defensive improvements are sustainable to me at home, and this will follow the recent trend post away goals and head back to England within reach for both clubs.

Pick: Under 2.5 (+110)

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