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Pep Guardiola returns to the Bernabeu this week as he seeks to secure Champions League glory with his second team as Manchester City kick off their knockout stage campaign at Real Madrid. Real Madrid lost ground in the LaLiga title race and with El Clasico looming, this is a pivotal week for Zinedine Zidane and co.
Defeat at the hands of Real Madrid's old adversary Guardiola won't sit well with the Los Blancos hierarcy and, despite their heritage in the competition, the Spanish giants come into the clash in Spain as underdogs.
Real Madrid have won the last two home European meetings with City, and despite Saturday's loss they'll be confident of ensuring it is third time's the charm on Wednesday night.
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Tip 1: Benzema anytime scorer
Karim Benzema is making the most of being Real Madrid's leading light on the frontline having netted 17 league and Champions League goals this season. While the Frenchman has his doubters, his form at the Bernabeu has been excellent, with 12 of those 17 goals scored in the Spanish capital.
All four Champions League goals he has scored this term have come at the Bernabeu and against a Manchester City side that has been far from solid at the back this term, and having conceded in four of their six group stage games, Benzema will be confident of adding to that record on home turf.
Karim Benzema has attempted 3 or more shots in 12 of his 14 appearances across the league and #UCL at the Bernabeu this season— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 26, 2020
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Tip 2: Benzema to have 3+ shots
Not only will Benzema be looking to get his name on the scoresheet, it's highly likely he'll routinely chance his luck at the Bernabeu. Only three players had more shots than the 32-year-old (25) in the group stages, 18 of which were on home turf, more than any other player. The fewest number of shots he mustered in a group stage match in Madrid was five, so Benzema to have three or more shots in this clash of the titans is possible.
Tip 3: Casemiro and Rodri to be carded
In this crunch midfield clash, both Casemiro and Rodri will be key to the outcome of this first leg tie. As a former Atletico man, Rodri can expect a frosty reception at the Bernabeu and Casemiro is likely to be out to ensure it's an unhappy return to Madrid for his Spanish counterpart. The Brazilian isn't afraid to stop opponents by any means necessary having been booked a total of 10 times in the league and Champions League this season, six yellow cards of which have come at home.
Rodri, though, has proven he is able to give as good as he gets for City having developed a statistically calculated WhoScored style of player of 'commits fouls often'. He has been yellow carded seven times across league and European action this season, six times of which have come away from home, and in a hostile Bernabeu environment, he is backed to add to that in Madrid.
Tip 4: Real Madrid to have 6+ corners
Only Bayern Munich (37) had more corners than Real Madrid (30) in home matches in the group stages, with the fewest Los Blancos managed in a game at the Bernabeu coming in their welcome of Galatasaray, where they had seven. For a side that mustered the second most home shots per game (24.7) in the group stages, they'll be expected to push forward on a whim by the Real Madrid faithful, so plenty of corner action is on the cards.