Real Madrid will host Pep Guardiola and his charges in the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of their round of 16 UEFA champions league tie. Reigning premier league champions, Manchester City will head into the tie at the back of two successive wins in the league, while Real Madrid have given the lead back to Barcelona after two disappointing outings. The Blancos dropped points in game week 24. A 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo and they lost their last domestic outing against Levante. Real Madrid are now 2 points behind league leaders Barcelona.

The Citizen might be cruising on the pitch but the news of their suspension by UEFA has dominated the headlines in recent weeks. They have been expelled from European football competitions for the next two seasons for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations. The Citizens have pleaded their innocence and have vowed to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Should they fail in their bid to overturn the ban, the club will not have a go at the competition again till at least 2022-2023 season, at that point a host of first team players and indeed boss, Pep Guardiola will most likely have moved on.

The UEFA champions are a realistic target for the Citizens as they are far behind runaway league leaders Liverpool. The Reds are 22 points ahead of Man City and winning the league is a matter of when and not if.

There is also the small matter of next weekend’s EFL Cup final showdown with Aston Villa, of course, as well as an FA Cup last-16 tie with Sheffield Wednesday, but the Champions League now takes priority over all other competitions for Guardiola.

Former Blancos midfielder Kaka has stated that the match will be close, considering what is at stake for the two clubs, but he believes Madrid should have enough to see off the Citizens over two legs.

Guardiola has stated that he will be considered a failure if he failed to bring the UEFA price to the Etihad. That adds an extra edge to a tie that many will hope lives up to the hype. At the end of the second leg, it will either be Zidane or Guardiola left picking up the pieces of a season that has fallen apart.