Manchester City's record against Spanish sides
Manchester City are in the Spanish capital for easily the most eagerly awaited clash in the opening games of this season's Champions League.
This is what being in the Champions League is all about . . . lining up against the very best Europe has to offer, and they don't come much better than Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid. The former Chelsea boss may not have restored pride as such at the Bernabeu with his controversial antics, but he has wrestled the La Liga crown away from their bitter foes Barcelona. Now the Spaniards have their eyes on clinching their 10th Champions League title and their first since 2002.
But having just been crowned champions of England, Manchester City now want to win the big one. Roberto Mancini's men exited the competition last season after failing to progress through a tough group. This year their challenge is even harder as they face the champions of Spain, Germany and Holland, kicking off tonight with a visit to the Bernabeu.
With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuain, Alonso, Pepe, Luka Modric and Casillas, Manchester City are going to be given a real test of their Champions League credentials.
This will be City's eighth competitive European clash with a Spanish side, their first with Real Madrid, and Mancini's men have endured mixed fortunes in their previous seven clashes. They've won three, drawn two and lost two, but they do come out favourably in the goals scored department, having scored four more than they've conceded. Whether that will still be the case after two games against Real Madrid though remains to be seen.
City's first clash with Spanish opposition came in 1969 as they faced Atletic Bilbao over two legs in the European Cup Winners Cup. The FA Cup winners travelled to Bilbao for the first leg and fought back from a two goal deficit to leave the Estadio San Mames with a 3-3 draw. City finished off the job at Maine Road, running out 6-3 aggregate winners.
Three years later they took on Valencia in the UEFA Cup. The first leg was at Maine Road and the honours were even in a four-goal thriller. City went to the Mestalla looking for their first win on Spanish soil but left on the back of a 2-1 defeat.
That winless run continued in 2008 when City played Racing Santander in the UEFA Cup group stage. The hosts ran into a 3-0 lead before the hour mark. City managed to pull one back just before full-time, but it was too little too late for Mark Hughes' side. It didn't stop City from reaching the quarter-final of the competition though.
However, in 2011, City finally won on Spanish soil when they beat Villareal home and away in the Champions League. Mancini's men had eased past the visitors at Eastlands 2-1 and a Yaya Toure-inspired brace, and a penalty by Mario Balotelli, gave them a comfortable 3-0 win at the El Madrigal.
Tonight though they face their biggest challenge. Despite sitting in the top four, Mancini's men have not started the season well at all and are yet to keep a single clean sheet. That was the backbone of their success last season and Mancini will be hoping Kompany, Lescott and Hart can hold firm in the cauldron of noise at the Bernabeu. City's defensive woes will be music to the ears of the Special One. He will tell the likes of Ronaldo, Modric and Ozil to shoot on sight. But he must not forget about the attacking threat of Tevez, Balotelli, Silva and Toure.
Real Madrid start the game as favourites, but City should never be counted out.
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