'Only Real Madrid can stop Manchester City': Ashley Westwood's bold UEFA Champions League prediction for semi-finals
Ashley Westwood has dropped a bold UEFA Champions League prediction for the upcoming semi-final clash between Manchester City and Real Madrid.
Wild chants of “Si se puede! (Yes we can!)” thundered at the Santiago Bernabeu when Real Madrid were looking down and out against Pep Guardiola's Manchester City in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals last season. The record-time winners were on the brink of another heartbreaking exit from the penultimate clash of Europe's biggest competition at the club level.
Former Sheffield Wednesday star Ashley Westwood, who watched the second-leg encounter between Man City and Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, was convinced that the visitors will punch their tickets for the final with a 1-0 win over Los Blancos. Though Man City faithful and Westwood were convinced that Real Madrid are on the cusp of a defeat, Karim Benzema and Co. produced another magical night at the Bernabeu by scripting a blockbuster comeback against the Premier League holders.
Substitute Rodrygo latched onto Benzema's pull-back in the final minute to get Madrid on level terms. Two minutes later, the Brazilian headed the all-important second goal for Madrid to send the mouthwatering fixture into extra time. Ballon d'Or holder Benzema then came up with a sucker punch by guiding Real Madrid to a famous 3-1 (6-5 aggregate) win from the penalty spot.
Out for vengeance, Guardiola's high-flying Man City side will aim to exact sweet revenge after their Champions League semi-final defeat to Real Madrid this season. Responding to a Hindustan Times query in a press conference, Westwood claimed that Manchester City will record a famous win over Real Madrid in the upcoming UEFA Champions League semi-finals.
“Manchester City arguably are playing the best style of football throughout the Champions League. The win against Bayern Munich certainly in the 1st leg was very expensive. Guardiola coming up with another tactical switch, playing John Stones in the midfield. Going 3 at the back was very clever, kind of played three at the back, two holding central midfielders with Rodri and Stones. And it was more or like four really across the middle. And Haaland at the front with kind of on his own was really attacking and giving them stability. With holding midfielders the counterattack Bayern were looking for and yeah it sounds like a very clever move from Guardiola. So, yeah they look strong! Only Real Madrid can stop them. I went to the semi-final in Madrid last year. When I thought Man City were gonna go through but for some reason, Real Madrid just knew how to play in the big game and they found something different, and they beat Man City. So it's gonna be a good match. But I expect Man City to win,” Westwood told Hindustan Times.
Real Madrid will record their tenth semi-final appearance in the last 12 seasons. The La Liga giants are also eyeing their sixth title since the 2014 edition of the Champions League. Madrid managed to set a date with Man City after hammering Chelsea 4-0 in the quarter-finals. Talking about the summit clash of the Champions League, Westwood is expecting Man City to challenge AC Milan in the final this season.
“I think AC Milan. I think they lost the first game, they didn't do very well in the early group stage. But then the next 6 games, they only conceded 1 goal. They would have kept 6 clean sheets but obviously conceded a goal in the dying minutes of the last game other wise it would have been six clean sheets out of six for them. So defensive wise they look very strong. And obviously, they have Rafael Leao on the left-hand side, which causes a lot of problems and he is doing very well. And they also have key attackers that can nick a goal here and there. They also have Giroud who has hit form as well. For me, it's the way they defend,” he added. Real Madrid will meet Man City in the 1st leg of the Champions League semi-finals at Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.
Watch the LIVE coverage of UEFA Champions League 2022/23: Semi Final (leg 1) - Real Madrid vs Man City and Milan vs Inter on Sony Sports Ten 2, Sony Sports Ten 3 (Hindi) & Sony Sports Ten 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels at 12:30 am IST on 10th & 11th May 2023.