Charlie Nicholas returns with his European predictions ahead of a feast of Champions League action.
Manchester City vs Real Madrid (agg 2-1), Friday, 8pm
The Champions League is back with a couple of matches on both Friday and Saturday, but this is the best of them.
When the full-time whistle blew in Madrid, City could have been further in front, by three or four goals. So Real still have a chance and that is the sad part, as I would like to see City get through.
Real have recaptured La Liga, but when I looked at what Pep Guardiola was doing when he was chopping and changing his City team, he was doing it too often for me. He is trying to get minutes into their legs, but his team for the FA Cup semi-final – when Arsenal beat them – did not play as well as City can play.
If you are taking a risk like this for the Champions League, you make it a big risk. For the last 10 days or so, Pep will have been working on shape, especially with Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and then Bernardo Silva or Riyad Mahrez. Does he utilise Mahrez to tease and torment Marcelo as he will not like it? But Mahrez will not like defending against Marcelo, so there will be lots to think about.
This tie is far from over and Madrid can comeback and hurt you big time as we have seen before. Pep knows how to get Real on the wrong foot and I think he will prove that again.
He played a false nine in Madrid and there is a possibility that this could happen again, with De Bruyne playing in that position. Gabriel Jesus has scored a few, but he is easier to mark. Sterling can threaten in behind Sergio Ramos to expose him too, so I am hopeful for City, but I do see both teams scoring goals.
For that reason, I am looking at a five-goal thriller. This is the build up to a real exciting Champions League campaign. Madrid will go for it and City can – and will – pick them off.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 3-2 (18/1 with Sky Bet)
Bayern Munich vs Chelsea (agg 3-0), Saturday, 8pm
This will be comfortable for Bayern, who have Robert Lewandowski leading the line. The Poland striker was the top goalscorer in Europe and given Chelsea’s suspect defence, I do not give them much hope.
It is a success story getting into the top four, I do not disagree with that, but you could see their vulnerabilities in the run-in and in the FA Cup final. Frank Lampard wants to play attacking, and on the front foot football, but you have to be assured at the back and they are not. Whether that is a back three or a back four, it does not work, while they also have problems in the wide areas.