MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 17: Head coach Jose Mourinho of Real Madrid gives a press conference ahead of his team's training session at Valdebebas training ground on September 17, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
It's the clash of the Group D titans as Manchester City travel to Spain to take on Cristiano Ronaldo and a suddenly-struggling Real Madrid.
Real Madrid vs. Manchester City isn't the sort of match that's supposed to kick off Group D of the UEFA Champions League. It looks like a particularly delicious quarterfinal tie, the sort you get when the group winners start meeting each other for the first time. But nope. Instead the defending champions for the two strongest leagues on the planet will be facing off in the group stages, and although you'd still expect both to emerge from the Group of Death (TM), any slipups here will be very, very painful.
In the main, that means that the pressure is on Real Madrid to stop being so awful. They're the home side and they're also the better team, so they should be able to come away with three points. Any fewer, and they're suddenly looking at some major problems, because Borussia Dortmund are a good enough team to punish any slip from either of the two giants. And Madrid have made a habit of dropping points this season -- their return from four matches in La Liga this year has been a win, a draw, and two straight losses.
Do City have a chance of pulling out an upset at the Bernabeu? It depends on how Madrid respond. You might see Jose Mourinho inspire his side to a complete and utter dismantling of the English pretenders, but if Los Blancos were responding to his motivational methods, you'd have to assume that they'd have done so by now rather than wandering off to Sevilla and putting in an utterly abject performance.
Then again, City haven't been so hot either, especially away from how. They were outperformed by Liverpool at Anfield, which is pretty sad, and they're fresh off a 1-1 draw against Stoke City. In other words, neither of these teams is anywhere close to playing as well as they strictly should. If one figures it out before the other, they'll end up pretty happy.
Y'all know the players already, I hope.
Match Date/Time: Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local
Venue: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain.
TV: ITV 1 (UK), Fox Soccer Channel (USA), Sportsnet Regional (Canada)
Online: Fox Soccer 2 Go (U.S.)
For more on the Merengues, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid. For more on the Citizens, check out Manchester City blog Bitter and Blue. You can follow all of the matches in our UEFA Champions League Tuesday StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.