Manchester City held Real Madrid to a goalless draw at the Etihad on Tuesday night, leaving their Champions League semi-final tie finely poised.
In what was a cagey affair that failed to live up to expectations, it is debatable as to who the draw suits better. Los Blancos will be pleased to return to the Spanish capital level, while City avoided conceding and will fancy their chances of producing a shock at the Bernabeu.
Given their poor performances against Roma and Wolfsburg in the last two rounds, Zinedine Zidane’s side can be vulnerable, despite what their home record in this competition would suggest.
However, there are three key factors that could come into play next week, with injured stars affecting both clubs:
Real Madrid need Cristiano Ronaldo fit
While Karim Benzema lasted just 45 minutes in Manchester, Gareth Bale, Lucas Vazquez and Jese struggled to apply sustained pressure on the City backline.
In turn, Ronaldo’s return for the second leg will unsurprisingly be crucial for his side as they need another spark in the final third to stretch the City defence and leave them open to attack.
Joe Hart produced some fine saves to keep the Spanish giants out, but a clinical Ronaldo will be itching to add to his haul of 16 goals in 10 outings in this competition so far this season.
Luka Modric is a joy to watch
The Croatian midfielder produced an exceptional performance at the Etihad, with his vision and passing laying off perfect balls to his teammates all over the pitch.
Casemiro is essentially a midfield destroyer and does his job well, while Toni Kroos was disappointing for the most part and will need to do better in the second leg.
However, whether it was dictating the tempo of the game by keeping Madrid ticking over or pushing the play forward with incisive passes, Modric was a real joy to watch.
Kevin de Bruyne will need to step up in Madrid
Following David Silva’s injury, the onus will now be on the Belgian more so to lead his side in Spain as he looked like their biggest threat on Tuesday night.
His ability to lead counter attacks with his pace and ability on the ball could make him a nightmare at the Bernabeu, and he will have to link play between the midfield and Sergio Aguero to ensure that the Argentine forward isn’t isolated.
As we saw when Madrid faced Roma with the likes of Mohamed Salah and Stephan El Shaarawy, pace on the break could be devastating for City as long as they take their chances.
Given his heroics in this competition already this season, it would be no surprise to see De Bruyne shine next week and play an instrumental role in his side’s possible progression.