Los Blancos are appearing in the last four for a record 27th time, and the difference between themselves and first-time semi-finalists Manchester City could not be any greater in that regard. However, that didn’t prove to be a factor in the first leg at the Etihad Stadium last week, with a Cristiano Ronaldo-less Madrid being held to a goalless draw by Manuel Pellegrini’s men. It took a couple of important stops from Joe Hart to keep the visitors at bay, but as it was Madrid could not find a breakthrough and, while their home advantage gives them the edge for this return leg, there is still work to be done if they are to reach a 14th European Cup/Champions League final. The good news for Zinedine Zidane is that Ronaldo is back available for the game, with the all-time Champions League top scorer missing the first leg due to a hamstring injury.
While Manchester City are in uncharted territory as a club, they do have experience which could prove vital on Wednesday night in the form of Pellegrini. The Chilean manager has not only graced this stage of the competition before, reaching the semi-finals with Villarreal in 2006, but he also spent a season in charge at the Bernabeu. Pellegrini steered Los Blancos to a then club-record number of La Liga points, but even that wasn’t enough to save his job and he may feel similarly hard done by when it comes to his impending Man City exit. Wednesday night is arguably the biggest game in the club’s history, and should they manage to reach the final too then Pellegrini will cement his place in City folklore ahead of his departure to make room for Pep Guardiola. The closing weeks of the campaign could go very well for the club, then, but they could also go very badly and Pellegrini has taken a risk in that regard.