Aug 2 (Reuters) – Manchester City is struggling when it comes to preventing the best teams from scoring goals for them, with their defenses likely to be the target of Real Madrid’s attack in the Champions League clash between the two teams Friday, former England team captain Wayne Rooney warned.
Pep Guardiola’s City leads Real Madrid after winning 2-1 in the first leg of their round of 16 tie in March, before the top European championship was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rooney, who won it with Manchester United in 2008, said City has before it the best opportunity in its history to lift the trophy for the first time.
“City may never have a better chance of winning the Champions League,” Rooney wrote in his Sunday Times column.
“Sergio Ramos is suspended, which is a great drain on Real Madrid’s defense, and I think City will score. My only question is if they are solid enough in the back.”
“Real Madrid will focus its attack on its central defenses, which is worrying given that this season all the other” Big Six “of the Premier League have beaten City (…). This shows that Guardiola’s team it may be difficult to keep the best teams at bay, “he wrote.
Rooney said he hoped that Real Madrid would allow City to dominate possession of the ball, relying on their strategy to counterattack.
“I have seen Zinedine Zidane do it in his first stage as Real Madrid coach when he played against Guardiola-style teams in big games, and that brought him success,” added Rooney.
“However, I am still betting on City. They do not have to force the game. They do not have to score. They can even afford to lose 1-0 and qualify, since in the first leg they surprised Madrid.”
“It was the first time I saw Guardiola playing a game like that and I have a feeling he will do the same at Etihad. It could be like a cat and mouse game.”
(Information from Shrivathsa Sridhar from Bengaluru; edited by Hugh Lawson; translated by Darío Fernández in the Gdansk newsroom)