In arguably the biggest game ever to be played at the Etihad stadium, Man City host Real, the nine time European Cup winners with only the slimmest hope of maintaining their place in the Champions League. City need to win to even begin dreaming of progression from the group stage and Roberto Mancini will need to get his selection and tactical decisions spot on, then hope his players can do the rest. talkSPORT look at the key battles ahead of the tie, as well as the likely line-ups on both sides...
Karim Benzema v Vincent Kompany
Jose Mourinho fielded Gonzalo Higuain in his starting XI against City back in September, but at the Etihad Karim Benzema is likely to take his place, and that's bad news for the Manchester side. The Frenchman put in a man of the match display against Athletic Bilbao at the weekend, scoring the best goal of the night, forcing an own goal, and assisting Mezut Ozil in a 5-1 mauling. Benzema is a harder worker than Higuain and will press City's defence with more energy, so Vincent Kompany in particular will need to make sure he's sharp when playing the ball out from the back. Benzema can finish from virtually anywhere, and is very technically gifted, so the City captain will have a handful with the forward.
Fabio Coentrao v David Silva
Brazilian wing-back Marcelo was given far too much space by City at the Bernabeu, so the home side will be relieved not to have to face him tonight, with the left sided player ruled out through injury. His replacement, Fabio Coentrao, is less effective in attack, but a better defender, so it should be an intriguing battle between the Portugal international and whoever lines up on the right of City's midfield. David Silva is expected to occupy the position, though the Spaniard tends to come inside rather than add width, and Sergio Aguero may drift into the wide space vacated by his team-mate. Coentrao will have to be alert to both players, who will look to play quick passes in the space between him and Sergio Ramos. The left-back still has his doubters at the Bernabeu and Marcelo's injury means the pressure is on for him to prove himself, which could work in City's favour depending on how he copes with it.
Cristiano Ronaldo v Pablo Zabaleta
Maicon had a poor game against Cristiano Ronaldo at the Bernabeu, so much so that he was withdrawn at half-time, but his replacement didn't cover himself in glory, either. Despite this, Pablo Zabaleta is still expected to start and without the presence of Marcelo, he will have less to worry about on his side of defence, though that's little comfort when Ronaldo is around. Zabaleta will know all about the dangers posed by the Ballon d'or nominee, but that doesn't make stopping him any easier. If he is to have any success in keeping him quiet he'll need to be more disciplined in holding his position than he was in Spain, while some assistance from the defensive midfield players will be required. Yaya Toure is perfectly suited to covering a player like Ronaldo, but whether Roberto Mancini will ask him to sacrifice his attacking instincts in order to provide more solidity remains to be seen.
Ronaldo v Man City in September
Jose Mourinho v Roberto Mancini
The real key battle of the night. Jose Mourinho may have a big reputation in England, but this season, teams like Sevilla, Getafe and Borussia Dortmund have all shown he isn't invincible. Tonight is about more than just the Champions League for Roberto Mancini, it's about proving his credentials against a man who has constantly upstaged him, so it's time for the Italian to put his money where his mouth is. Mancini can't look for excuses considering the kind of talent at his disposal, and if he's done his homework on Madrid's few weaknesses and he can get his players to exploit them, it'll go a long way towards getting the result he so desperately needs. Jose Mourinho, meanwhile, is under pressure of his own, so he won't just be looking for a win, but a convincing result to send a message to his critics.
Here's how Mourinho and Mancini's last face-off played out
Manchester City (4-2-3-1)
Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Kolarov; Toure, Garcia; Silva, Aguero, Nasri; Dzeko
Real Madrid (4-2-3-1)
Casillas; Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrao; Khedira, Xabi Alonso; Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo; Benzema
Will Roberto Mancini outthink Jose Mourinho at the Etihad, or do Madrid have too much experience for relative Champions League newcomers City? Leave a comment below and have your say...