Hosting the Spanish giants is the biggest challenge, in terms of glamour and intrigue, of Mancini’s City reign. He knows what is needed for his side to meet it — perfection.
"This was a really good performance and result but it will count for nothing against Real," said the City manager. "I don’t know whether it would be enough against them. They are one of the best teams in the world, and to beat them, we will have to give a perfect performance.
"We went close last time, in Madrid, and were 2-1 up with four minutes to go, but this is not going to be easy. It is a different game, and if we want to beat them, we will have to defend very well. They have three or four players who can decide a game at any moment, and we are going to have to work very hard as a team.
"At least we have improved defensively in the last four or five games, which is important. It is down to the whole team playing different football and having 65 per cent, or more, control of the game. That has helped us look more solid."