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Real Madrid Luck Holds with Champions League Draw Against Manchester City

Published by Bleacher Report on Fri, 15 Apr 2016

The undecima is in sight. Having won the decima, the tenth, in May 2014 against local rivals Atletico, Real Madrid fans are now dreaming of the 11th.They were plucked out of the hat to face Manchester City in the Champions League draw that took place on Friday morning, the best possible draw for Zinedine Zidane and his players.Manchester City are the weakest team left in the tournament, and the strongest two teams, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid, now must face off in the other semi-final.Real also have the advantage of having the second leg of the tie at home, so if things go wrong on their trip to the Etihad, they can amend them back at the Santiago Bernabeu.That's what happened in the quarter-finals, against Wolfsburg, with Cristiano Ronaldo's brilliant hat-trick in the second leg eliminating the Germans, despite their bold performance at home to beat the Spanish giants 2-0.Madrid have been fairly fortunate in this European campaign with regard to their draws.Facing Roma, Wolfsburg and now Manchester City in the knockout rounds is more akin to a Europa League run than a Champions League one.Compare that to Madrid's neighbours, who, if they meet in the final, will have had to go 180 minutes or more against the two teams widely considered to be the best in the world, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.But the draw is pure chance, and Madrid have no option but to play whoever they are picked against, so it's not something you can hold against them.Barcelona-based newspaper Diario Sport had three polls running after the draw, asking "Do you think Manchester City will knock out Real Madrid'" (67 per cent said no at the time of writing), "who is the favourite to win the Champions League'" (56 per cent said Madrid) and "have Real Madrid had luck in the Champions League draw'" (84 per cent said yes).However, Real Madrid's director of institutional relations, Emilio Butragueno, warned Real Madrid not to underestimate their English opponents, despite their poor season in the Premier League. He said, per AS (h/t Goal.com):It will be a very even tie. We are talking about two clubs with players of the highest level. Manchester City are a very dangerous opponent and they will be hugely motivated. We have to be at our best in both games if we want to make it to the final. I remember that we thought we were lucky to avoid Barcelona during last year's draw and then we were eliminated by Juventus. It is going to be a very difficult tie.UEFA's Joseph Walker wrote on their live coverage blog: "Zinedine Zidane is looking to lead Madrid to an 11th European Cup, and the Merengues, in their sixth straight semi-final, will be content to face last-four debutants Manchester City."Meanwhile, the European football governing body's Manchester City reporter Simon Hart added: "This is Citys first European semi-final since 1971 and they will start as underdogs. Yet when their attacking players raise their game, they have a chance against any team."Manchester City's sporting director Txiki Begiristain said: "Its a great tie against the team that has won the competition the most times. But we have got this far and we want to keep dreaming."City saw off Paris-Saint Germain in the quarter-finals after an easy clash against Dynamo Kiev in the last 16, but their form at home has been poor. They are fourth in the Premier League and an astonishing 15 points behind league leaders Leicester City.Madrid met City in the 2012-13 group stage of the tournament, beating them 3-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Marcelo, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo on target. At the other end, Edin Dzeko, who has since left, and Aleksandar Kolarov found the net.Then, back in the north of England, the other match between the teams finished 1-1, with Benzema and Sergio Aguero on the scoresheet.The latter is the main threat to Reals progression to the final. Shackle him, and Madrid will be in Milan on May 28.
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