Manchester City travel to Real Madrid Femenino on Tuesday night without Lucy Bronze and Ellen White but it would still be a major shock were Gareth Taylor’s side to lose the first leg of their Champions League second qualifying round tie in Spain.
Given that Real Madrid were formally established in 2020 and are competing in Europe for the first time, the absence of Bronze and White, following knee surgery and an unspecified medical procedure respectively, should not make too much difference to the outcome at the Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium.
“People might think that, because of their name, Real are an experienced team but they’re not,” said Vicky Losada, the former Barcelona captain who has joined Taylor’s side this summer and is expected to make her debut in midfield. “This is only their second season in the Spanish league. They have very talented players but the girls are still getting to know each other.”
Last season Losada’s Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 4-0 and 4-1 respectively in the Primera División and she is keen to renew an old acquaintance in front of a sellout crowd of 6,000 in Madrid. “I don’t like the white kit too much, so I can’t wait,” joked the 30-year-old who was part of the Barcelona team that overcame Chelsea in the Champions League final last season.
“I’m very excited to start my City career in Spain against the team I’ve been watching from the other side for my whole life. A goal would be nice; if someone offered me my first City goal against Real Madrid, where do I sign?
“It should be a good game and a great atmosphere but I think our team is ready to fight for trophies. I’ve adapted quickly here; there are many versions of football but I think Gareth likes the style I like – and I personally believe Manchester City can win the Champions League.”
Glory in the final in Turin next May could be contingent on how swiftly Bronze and White return to augment Taylor’s defence and attack respectively. Perhaps worryingly, the club have provided no timelines regarding the expected comebacks of two of England’s key players.
Arsenal are also in first-leg action, against Slavia Prague at Meadow Park, on Tuesday night as they, like City, aim to qualify for the inaugural women’s group stage. Jonas Eidevall will doubtless be hoping his team can reprise the 13-2 aggregate victory they enjoyed against the same opponents in October 2019.