Well, Jose thinks they’re a goner and it’s gonna to take a major slice of luck for them to reach the Champions League knockout stages, but Manchester City are no strangers to defying the odds. The last day of last season and Shaun Goater’s career tell us that.
Anything less than a win over Real Madrid will mean they miss out on the Last 16 for the second season in a row and even a win guarantees nothing more than the possibly vain hope being extended into December.
I’ll be here for the evening to keep you up to date with all the latest news from the Etihad, a lot of which may or not focus on the sartorial elegance of Messers Mancini and Mourinho. If you have anything to add, give me a shout in the comments section.
MANCHESTER CITY 1 – 1 REAL MADRID
‘EITHER MANAGER SPOTTED LOOKING LIKE A PAGE FROM THE NEXT CATALOGUE’ COUNT: 3
‘RONALDO HAVING A RIDICULOUS SHOT FROM DISTANCE RATHER THAN PASSING’ COUNT: 1
9.37pm: FULL TIME! It finishes 1-1 and if City have any further interest in Europe this season, it will be confined to Thursday nights. We’ll know when they play in Dortmund in two weeks time.
9.36pm: YELLOW CARD! Javi Garcia goes into the book for having a haircut that’s ‘too Generation X’
9.35pm: Tevez nearly gets on the end of a lofted through ball from David Silva. Casillas comes out to claim it and ruin City’s fun.
9.32pm: Five minutes of added time and it gets greeted with a special sarcastic round of applause from the Special One.
9.31pm: SUB! Angel Di Maria trudges as slowly as he can off the pitch. Raul Albiol takes his place.
9.29pm: SUB! It’s Mancini’s final sub and he’s going for … er … broke?? Really? James Milner comes on and Sergio Aguero goes off for some reason.
9.27pm: It’s not all City at the moment, but it’s mostly City. They’re getting into some good positions, but that one chance is evading them thus far.
9.22pm: Cristiano Ronaldo fumes at the referee again. I don’t know why he’s complaining – that was perfectly good blocking from the City linebacker, Vincent Kompany.
9.21pm: Ronaldo kindly offers to grab Vincent Kompnay’s legs to treat him for cramp. I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the right cure for the ailment known as ‘a fully grown man landing on your ankle’.
9.19pm: There’s a long lingering shot of Roberto Mancini. It kind of looks like a catalogue model pose, but he’s doing far too much rubbing of his snotty nose meaning the tally stays at three.
9.18pm: It’s now just 21/10 for a City win.
9.16pm: SUB! Jose reacts immediately and brings on defender, Rafael Varane in place of Benzema.
9.15pm: GOAL! CITY! Aguero keeps his cool and slots it low to the right of Casillas. City have 16 minutes to go plus stoppage time against the 10 men of Real.
9.14pm: PENALTY AND RED CARD! Arbeloa gets a second yellow for a foul on Aguero and City have the chance to equalise.
9.11pm: 20 minutes to go and City are 14/1 to pull it out of the fire from here. They’ve done similar things before, but the absence of a terrible Djibril Cisse haircut should tell you this is not QPR.
9.09pm: SUB! The Special One makes another change. Luka Modric comes off and Jose Callejon who looks like he used to be in Busted, comes on in his place.
9.06pm: GREAT CHANCE AND GREAT SAVE! Sergio Aguero looks nailed on to score when the ball drops to him three yards out, but Casillas somehow gets in the way of the shot and Real clear the danger.
At the other end, Ronaldo has a speculative shot straight at Joe Hart when passing to a team-mate was a better option.
9.05pm: Sami Khedira gets treatment for receiving a ball in the temple. He looks dazed and when he eventually comes around, he thinks he’s Milan Baros in about 2003. Easy mistake to make.
9.02pm: YELLOW CARD! Sergio Ramos gets a yellow for looking like he handled it. The evidence for the infringement is less than conclusive whilst the evidence for the referee’s poor decision-making is growing.
9.01pm: SUB! Carlos Tevez comes on and Samir Nasri – who didn’t do a whole lot tonight, makes it official by making way.
9pm: BOOKING! Zabaleta gets a yellow card that Gary Neville calls harsh. It’s what some people would call a ‘good old fashioned British tackle’ and others would call ‘ankle-breaker’.
8.58pm: GREAT CHANCE! One pass opens up City and Ronaldo’s cross gets to Khedira and his header is blocked by what looks to be his team-mate.
8.56pm: City attack and a half chance falls the way of David Silva. His shot is weaker and straight at Casillas and the Real captain catches the ball first time for once.
8.54pm: YELLOW CARD! It’s a snipey rivalry forged in north London as ex-Gunner, Samir Nasri fouls ex-Spur, Luka Modric.
8.52pm: Great chance for City. Some nice play from Aguero and Silva creates a chance for Aguero, but his touch is heavier than Kerry Katona on a carbs binge and Real clean things up after a moment of butterfingers from Casillas.
8.49pm: YELLOW CARD! Xabi Alonso gets booked and then complains, even though he didn’t touch the ball and caught the man with both feet. They’re a team very much in their manager’s moany image this Real Madrid side.
8.47pm: Real Madrid kick off the second half.
8.45pm: Mourinho seems to be giving his team some last minute instructions in the tunnel. Either that or discussing how great his coat is.
SUB! City make a swap and Maicon avoids the chop. Javi Garcia comes on and Kolarov comes off.
8.30pm: HALF TIME! City go in one down and they need one of their patented second half rousing comebacks to kick their Champions League dreams alive.
8.28pm: Arbeloa gives away a free kick for getting kicked in the thigh by Zabaleta. Strange decision.
8.25pm: YELLOW CARD! Maicon goes into the book for an off the ball collision with Benzema. In fairness, that’s the closest he’s got to Benzema all night. Roberto Mancini looks like he’s about to tell the fourth official to warm up his thumbs for an imminent substitution.
8.23pm: It’s been a better few minutes for City, but they haven’t been able to create much. Iker Casillas looks jealously at the Sky studio and ponders why he didn’t do Movember.
8.16pm: YELLOW CARDS Toure gets booked for City and not long after Arbeloa goes the same way.
8.11pm: City reorganise to go four at the back. Unless any of this reorganising involves Maicon not being asked to defend, it will probably make no difference.
8.08pm: Sami Khedira runs straight – quite literally and I’m using ‘literally’ correctly this time – through the centre of the City defence. His touch is as subtle as a Frankie Boyle joke however and Joe Hart blocks the effort. More suspect defending from the hosts. City break, win a corner, but can’t make anything of it.
8.07pm: A quarter of the match is gone and you can back City at 11/2 to win the match if you fancy it.
8.06pm: Sergio Aguero gets a yard of space and hits a shot at goal. Casillas makes the save and eventually the follow up corner comes to nowt.
8.04pm: Pepe gets a header on goal and doesn’t stamp on someone’s head, much to everyone’s surprise. Joe Hart makes an easy save, but the chances Real are creating are more worrying for City than Liam Gallagher doing an uncensored interview.
8pm: Cristiano Ronaldo is put clean through and his deft lob is a little too deft and Nastasic gets back to clear it off the line. Ronaldo’s follow up shot is blocked for a corner and the Special One gives us our second Next catalogue moment of the night.
7.57pm: This is real ‘getting the hook before the half hour’ stuff from Maicon. This time he watches as Ronaldo does that flick of the leg dummy thing and gets a good ball into the box. The first time shot from Khedira goes just wide.
The same player heads just wide moments later. It’s been a poor start from City.
7.55pm: GOAL! REAL MADRID! Karim Benzema puts the visitors ahead and it’s one of the worst pieces of defending you’re ever likely to see this side of Titus Bramble. Maicon decides to stop tracking the Frenchman’s run to goal, allowing to get on the end of a cross and half volley past Joe Hart.
7.53pm: The first hissy fit of the night from Ronaldo. He fails to realise the ref spotted the foul and played advantage.
7.50pm: Man City have a free kick in a decent position, but Iker Casillas makes a spectacular dive and punch to clear it when standing there and catching the ball would have been infinitely easier and more helpful for his team.
7.47pm: We haven’t had to wait long for our first ‘Next catalogue moment’. Jose is looking superb in a lovely wool double-breasted overcoat.
7.45pm: City kick off and they play from the left side of the TV to the right.
7.42pm: The teams walk out on to the pitch with their customary small child per player. One of the children seems to be wearing a City jersey … no wait … that’s David Silva.
7.39pm: Normally the lads at FitbaThatba can be relied upon for their surreal take on football events. Their take on the Chelsea managerial situation however feels oddly accurate, which says quite a lot about what goes on at Stamford Bridge.
7.34pm: WOW! GENUINE BREAKING NEWS!
Rafa Benitez’s goatee has been appointed Chelsea manager until the end of the season. Rafa Benitez will also join the club as part of the deal.
7.23pm: It’s time for our first slightly uncomfortable pre-match interview of the evening. Roberto Mancini denies there was any thinking gone into tonight’s three at the back approach for tonight and says he’s going to call the police to stop Cristiano Ronaldo. A simple ‘Hey Cristiano, would you mind taking this cocaine-filled luggage to Manchester for me’ after the Madrid would have done that job for him.
7.16pm: IIt’s time to talk about the odds for tonight’s match and it’s totally because I LOVE BETTING rather than being contractually obliged to do so.
City are the 2/1 outsiders to win tonight, which is actually kind of tempting. Although that attitude might explain why I’m so popular in my local bookies. The entirely possible draw is 13/5 and a Real win is 5/4.
7.05pm: Ruud Gullit puts forward his rather half-arsed conspiracy theory about Chelsea wanting Mourinho back prior to them winning the Champions League. Next up, he’s going to explain how the success of the Spice Girls was actually a CIA plot to control Europe.
7pm: A weird maths-based intro kicks off Sky Sports’ coverage. Jeff Stelling looks slightly uncomfortable as it brings back memories of his time as the grannies’ eye candy on Countdown.
6.52pm: TEAM NEWS!
The team Roberto Mancini has picked to keep City’s faint hopes alive is in. Supersub, Edin Dzeko gets the chance to be a super-starter alongside Sergio Aguero whilst it looks like Mancini will start with three at the back until the point he loses faith in his own tactics and starts mixing things up.
Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Maicon, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Nasri, Kolarov, Dzeko, Aguero
Jose Mourinho has named a strong team. Luka Modric gets a start, Benzema leads the attack and trying to score from impossible angles rather than passing to a team-mate will be the one and only Cristiano Ronaldo.
Casillas, Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Coentrao. Alonso, Khedira, Ronaldo, Modric, Di María, Benzema