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Chasing Real Madrid; Manchester City may envy United, but the Spanish giants should be real target

Sep 17, 2012, 11:32 AM EST

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From a competitive standpoint and considering Manchester City’s place in terms of geography and housing in England’s Premier League, the club’s mighty crosstown rivals are surely the primary rabbit to chase around the Etihad.

But in financial terms and in the reach for even greater acclaim, Manchester City should train its pursuit on Real Madrid; the iconic side from Spain is the European standard bearer here.

So says Bobby McMahon in this piece at Forbes.com.

McMahon makes the case that UEFA’s newly created Financial Fair Play rules are mostly about annual economic sustainability at their heart, and that Real Madrid checks all the right boxes. Profits in 2011 around the Bernabeu, the Forbes pieces notes, rang the cash register at around $60 million, and the club puts its 2012 surplus at around $44 million.

In pursuing the riches of Real Madrid, there’s also a matter of a record nine Champions League titles that reside at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

(MORE: Real Madrid’s early struggles)

Manchester United, meanwhile, has three. (Although it should be noted that two-thirds of those continental titles were in the 50s and 60s, a very different day in Spain and throughout Europe.)

I won’t quibble with the point in strict financial terms.  But I simply cannot see City taking its eyes off the closer-range prize in everything else, and that’s Manchester United.

As that awful Hannibal Lecter once famously told us: “We covet what we see every day.”  And for the players, coaches, management and staff of Manchester City, that’s Manchester United and all of its acclaim. It must be difficult to be the champions of England, but still be subject to daily doses of Red Devil exaltation.

All this is just a little of the backdrop as Champions League group play matches begin Tuesday; Manchester City’s visit to Madrid is the feature match among 16 set for Tuesday and Wednesday.

The full UEFA Champions League schedule is here.

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