Manchester City have secured their spot in the UEFA Champions League against Real Madrid. But before they jet off to the Santiago Bernabéu, they have an FA Cup semi at Wembley against Sheffield United. Sky Blue News is here with the latest news to help you keep it all sorted.
Looking ahead to next month’s matches De Bruyne, who produced another commanding man of the match display at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday, said he was expecting nothing less than two ties of the very highest quality.
But the Belgian midfielder believes that if we heed the lessons of last season’s games, we can ensure a different outcome this time around.
“We’ll need to be at our best to beat them,” De Bruyne asserted.
“Last year, we played really well, made some mistakes but this year we will try to minimise the mistakes.
“One of the best teams. A lot of respect for them – top, top team and players.
“We’ve played a lot of times against them, and they’ve always been good games. I wouldn’t expect anything less.
“I’ve got confidence in our team. We go again and hopefully the outcome will be ours this time.”
I know you have seen it. All over social media and from all kinds of pundits all over the world, that Manchester City are the clear favorites for winning the Champions League.
They are wrong.
For a few reasons, let’s start with simple heritage, that immaterial, unquantifiable juice Real Madrid carry with them. We saw it in last years tie as Madrid won in one of the most improbable comebacks in the modern era of football. Add City’s ‘heritage’ or lack there of and one can see the odds they face even with Pep Guardiola at the helm. Madrid are the 14 time champions for a reason and to put that burden on City to be clear favourites is wrong.
Another reason are the players. In case you forgot, Madrid not only have the best goal keeper in the world, or at worst top two, they also have the reigning Ballon D’Or winner. Thibaut Courtois and Karim Benzema are special match winning players. And that’s not to say that City don’t have those type of players. But only one team has proven UCL winners that have done it before in UCL finals, unlike City. It makes for an incredibly difficult tie.
Manchester City Are NOT the Favourites for the UCL, Real Madrid ARE https://t.co/qOkuy9AECz— Bitter and Blue (@BitterandBlue1) April 20, 2023
Manchester City defender Nathan Ake has emerged as an injury doubt for Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final clash with Sheffield United at Wembley Stadium.
The Dutchman was forced off midway through the second half of City’s 1-1 second-leg draw with Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday after sustaining a hamstring injury.
Ake is hopeful that his issue is “not too bad” but the defender is at risk of missing out this weekend, which could see fellow left-footed defender Aymeric Laporte start in his place at left-back.
Pep Guardiola was boosted by the return of Phil Foden to his matchday squad on Wednesday, with the attacker recovering from appendix surgery to feature on the substitutes’ bench.
It remains to be seen whether the England international – who has been involved in seven goals in his last six FA Cup appearances – is fit to start on Saturday, though, while Guardiola has issued concerns regarding his “exhausted” City side ahead of the semi-final, with rotation to be considered by the Catalan boss amidst a busy fixture schedule.
It’s quite the week in what has been a roller coaster of a season for a club that is up for sale – a Nigerian billionaire wants to buy it from the current owner from Saudi Arabia – and presently under a transfer embargo for breaking financial rules.
In the long term, getting back in the Premier League after an absence of two years is more important for Sheffield United, simply for financial reasons. It will net the club guaranteed income of about 200 million pounds ($250 million) through broadcast deals, prize money and other benefits.
For manager Paul Heckingbottom, the run to the FA Cup semi-finals – which has included wins over Hollywood-owned Wrexham and Premier League team Tottenham – has simply been a “break from the league.”
“If we achieve what we want to achieve in the league, then this is going to be the kind of test we are facing every single week,” Heckingbottom said of the daunting match against City. “So why not try and test ourselves now?”
Rodri reveals the ‘moment Man City switched on’ to chase down Premier League leaders Arsenal - Richard Martin - Goal
WHAT HAPPENED? The Spanish midfielder gave details of a dressing room discussion after the disappointing 1-1 draw at struggling Forest in February, after Chris Wood scored with his team’s only shot on target. The talk led to Pep Guardiola’s side going on a relentless streak of 10 wins out of 12 matches including six successive Premier League wins.
WHAT THEY SAID: “I remember the game in Nottingham. We had a conversation. It’s not enough to play good, you need to punish,” Rodri said after City’s 1-1 draw at Bayern Munich, which saw them qualify for the Champions League semi-finals. “From that moment we switched on and you see it now, the behaviour and the character of the team. We identified the fact that we needed to punish our rivals. That is where we have improved … to finish the games. You have seen it in the last months that almost every chance we have, we score.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: City have gained four points on Arsenal since the draw at Forest and the title is now in their own hands heading into next Wednesday’s showdown against the Gunners at the Etihad Stadium. They are also on track to complete a treble after reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League and FA Cup.
‘It talks more’ - Rodri interview on leadership and rivals as he targets Man City history - Simon Bajkowski - Manchester Evening News
One such moment came in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich. City could have conceded seconds earlier were it not for a terrific block from Ruben Dias from a Jamal Musiala shot, when Rodri picked the ball up and arced a wonderful shot past Yann Sommer into the back of the net for his first goal in the competition.
The execution and the timing could not have been better, kickstarting a hugely impressive win for Guardiola’s side and showing once again the huge strides made by a player who was dropped from the City team that made the Champions League final in 2021 after too many errors in the big moments. If that wasn’t painful enough, losing to Real Madrid last year after leading by two goals going into the 180th minute of the tie was the toughest of learning curves.
But learn is what Rodri and City have done, and after a 4-1 aggregate win over Bayern in the quarter-finals they are potentially 13 matches away from achieving the Treble - something only United have ever done before in English football. With Sheffield United at Wembley this weekend and a repeat with Real in the Champions League semis, Rodri is determined to seize these moments to take the legacy of this team to the next level.
“I would love this. I would love [it],” he said, answering on the Treble before the question could even be finished.
“Maybe you can spend three years to achieve the FA Cup, the Premier League and the Champions League. But if you do it in one season and you were able to win three with the same team and all those games!? It talks more.
“All 23 players in the squad will all be important if we are to do this. We’re alive in all the competitions, we know we can do this so we’re there. It would be the first time and massive for the club.
And finally... A house divided makes it’s way to Wembley.
Couple to travel 3,000 miles to watch Man City v Sheffield Utd - but will sit at opposite ends of Wembley - Izzy Hawksworth - Manchester World
Caroline Oatway, 32, is a Manchester City fan but hubby Shaun Littler, also 32, is a die-hard Sheffield United supporter. The couple were watching the moment when the teams were drew to play against each other at Wembley on Saturday April 22 live from their home in Boston, USA.
And when they realised they would be visiting in family then, they decided to get tickets - in their clubs’ respective ends. The pair will even travel down to Wembley Stadium separately as Caroline plans to go with her friends, while lifelong Blades fan Shaun will travel with his family.
Caroline, originally from Manchester, is confident her side will win, but admits it’s ‘going to be a long flight’ back home next week for whoever’s team loses. She said: “I certainly hope City are going to win.
“On paper they definitely should but football doesn’t that work that way and I’ve followed City long enough to know that they don’t always work that way. It should probably be comfortable for us but who knows. We keep saying it’s going to be a long flight for one of us.
There you are. Be sure to stay with Bitter and Blue throughout the weekend. Sky Blue News returns Monday with more headlines.