The Real Madrid plot to unsettle Man City that could backfire spectacularly

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Man City will face the Spanish giants at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday evening.

On Tuesday evening, Pep Guardiola will take charge of his 870th fixture as a football manager, give or take. In that time, a lot of teams have employed a lot of different approaches in an attempt to quell him and his usual roving cast of silverware locusts, but Real Madrid might just be the first who try to deafen him into submission.

Manchester City travel to the Spanish capital in the Champions League tonight to contest the first leg of a glittering clash that, in the eyes of many, would make for a deserving showpiece final. Instead, we must settle for the relative restraint of a last eight tussle. Nevertheless, come 8pm BST, the collective attention of the footballing world will be squarely fixated on the Santiago Bernabeu - except perhaps for a few errant pockets in North London and Bavaria.

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But anybody watching from home may want to keep the volume button on their television remote close at hand. You see, having consulted with UEFA representatives and match official François Letexier, Real have been granted permission to shut the roof of their newly renovated stadium in an effort to create as loud and vocal an atmosphere as they possibly can. If only they’d spoke up sooner, City could have brought with them the PA system they use for such purposes at the Etihad. (I jest City fans; I don’t want either of you getting upset with me.)

All of sudden, the Premier League champions’ midweek Spanish sojourn has a distinct ‘Hell in a Cell’ vibe; or at the very least a hint of ‘dust-up in a community centre sports hall’. And who says that elite football exists purely in an echo chamber?

Whether this retention of sound will have any kind of meaningful effect on Real’s fortunes on Tuesday remains to be seen, of course. Four weeks ago, the relevant authorities acquiesced to the same request and the Bernabeu’s expanded 85,000 capacity created a din so mighty that it inspired the La Liga giants to a *checks notes* 1-1 draw against RB Leipzig, a side currently fourth in the Bundesliga. Raucous stuff.

Instead, sealed in like grains of leftover egg fried rice in a Tupperware box, you suspect that City will have more pressing concerns to deal with than whether or not they can hear Erling Haaland’s impression of John Stones from ten paces. Chief among them, understandably, will be Jude (Deci)Bellingham, a precocious presence who, hyperbole notwithstanding, may well be the best player in the world at this precise moment in time. Alongside the Brummie boy prince, Brazilian sensation Vinicius Junior menaces exponentially, while a midfield roster of Aurélien Tchouaméni, Eduardo Camavinga, and Federico Valverde are imbued with composed havoc. Carlo Ancelotti has built a prodigious squad of new age superstars, a sort of Galác-TikTok-os, if you will, and outside interference should neither burnish nor dampen the threat they pose.

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That being said, City are hardly a dulled blade. The reigning kings of Europe are as competent at bloodying noses as any team that Guardiola has meticulously assembled. There is an argument to be made that they are, in a sense, his magnum opus. For their part, they will not be drowned out so easily.

Perhaps Real know this, but in spite of themselves they are still intent on harbouring an ambience that feels like a congregation of 85,000 rubber chickens in a cathedral. Maybe they need to be a tiny bit careful, though. These things have a tendency to backfire if you are not. After all, boos reverberate just as loudly as cheers.

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