Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Manchester City vs Real Madrid – Combined XI

Manchester City and Real Madrid prepare to deliver the latest instalment of their modern rivalry this evening, as the two teams go head-to-head in the Champions League quarter-finals.

A thrilling six-goal draw has left the tie perfectly poised ahead of the return at the Etihad, where the holders will start as slight favourites against a Real Madrid team who have failed to win on each of their previous five visits to the venue.

Ahead of their Champions League showdown, we’ve put together our Manchester City and Real Madrid combined XI.

Goalkeeper: Ederson – Manchester City

Ederson is expected to return to the Manchester City team this evening after missing the first leg, as part of a triple injury boost for the holders. The Brazil international’s impact on the team is difficult to replace with Ederson boasting unrivalled distribution from deep. His repertoire of passing is something to behold when in the mood.

Right-back: Kyle Walker – Manchester City

Kyle Walker is another first-leg absence set to return and how Manchester City will be glad he’s back.

Still so, so crucial in this type of fixture, Real Madrid looked to exploit the space behind the right side of Manchester City’s defence without Walker in the team last time out. The 33-year-old eats up the ground on opposition attackers and his battle with Vinicius Junior will be one of the defining duels of this contest.

Grab the popcorn.

Centre-back: John Stones – Manchester City

Manchester City’s success in Europe last season was arguably built around John Stones. The defender’s unique role in roving into midfield helped assert City control in the biggest games, including a standout showing in the final win over Inter Milan in Istanbul.

A footballer of elite technique and tactical understanding, Stones is a favourite of Pep Guardiola for good reason. He often makes his complex centre-back role look effortless, gallivanting forward to impact games further forward.

Centre-back: Antonio Rudiger – Real Madrid

The former Chelsea centre-back has taken his game to new heights since swapping Stamford Bridge for the Spanish capital, with Real Madrid’s free transfer capture of Rudiger representing brilliant business. In the absence of the injured Eder Militao and David Alaba this season he has held the fort, as Carlo Ancelotti’s team close in on wrestling back La Liga from Barcelona.

He will relish another battle with Erling Haaland again this week, after a shutdown job on the Manchester City striker a week ago.

Left-back: Josko Gvardiol – Manchester City

Josko Gvardiol is growing into his role at Manchester City with the Croatian beginning to look like a £77.6m defender. Defensively sound and adventurous in his passing, Gvardiol’s comfortability on both feet allows him to evade pressure – and has been evidenced by back-to-back goals across the last week.

After Gvardiol opened his account for the club with a stunner against Real Madrid on his ‘weaker’ right side, he unleashed another at home to Luton in the Premier League at the weekend. After a mixed start, he’s getting better and better.

Midfield: Rodri – Manchester City

Spanish football’s big two will be kicking themselves for missing out on Rodri. After spells with Villarreal and Atletico Madrid, Manchester City made the move to bring the midfielder to English football and have reaped the rewards since.

The 27-year-old has become the world’s best defensive midfielder under Pep Guardiola’s guidance, the irreplaceable metronome of the City engine room. It’s been 14 months since the Citizens last lost a game with Rodri in the team, a staggering statistic and illustration of his importance.

Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City

Kevin De Bruyne was only deemed fit enough for the bench last week but returned with a characteristically creative performance in the weekend win over Luton. De Bruyne remains the number-one creator in world football and, perhaps, even the planet’s finest talent.

There are few players with the level of completeness that De Bruyne possesses, with wondrous ability off either foot and a knack for carving open defences. His previous two visits to the Champions League final have ended early and the Belgian will want to impact club football’s biggest showpiece before his time is done.

Midfield: Jude Bellingham – Real Madrid

Jude Bellingham turned down interest from the Premier League to sign for Real Madrid last summer and has been the driving force in the club’s campaign. He’s the second-highest scorer in La Liga and has netted 20 times in all competitions, emerging as a rampaging force in the final third.

His form has slowed since an ankle issue in February, including a quiet first leg, but Bellingham has shown he is capable of delivering clutch moments for the Spanish giants. None would be bigger than a decisive contribution at the Etihad on Wednesday night.

Right-wing: Phil Foden – Manchester City

Phil Foden is moved into a wide role to accommodate Bellingham, a situation that could still unfold for England this summer. What is not open for debate is that both must start for Gareth Southgate’s side, two of the most supremely gifted young talents in European football right now.

At 23, Foden has elevated himself from Manchester City’s star of the future to world-class status in the here and now. He has 22 goals in all competitions and 10 assists, while he has consistently changed games this season with moments of brilliance. His stunning strike in the first leg was the latest highlight in an ever-increasing reel.

Left-wing: Vinicius Junior – Real Madrid

Is there a more difficult wide player in world football to face than Vinicius Junior? Probably not.

The Brazil superstar is electric when on song and will be looked towards to hurt Manchester City this week. His sharpness and evasiveness when navigating challenges are thrilling to watch, and his production has reached elite levels in recent campaigns.

The 23-year-old is nearing 20+ goals in a campaign for the third successive season, and he has been involved in seven goals in six Champions League appearances this season.

Forward: Erling Haaland – Manchester City

The absurdity of Erling Haaland’s numbers means even this season is being suggested, by some, to have not hit the heights expected. The 23-year-old, with a month of the campaign to go and two months spent out injured, has hit 31 goals in all competitions.

He’s the joint leader in the race for the Premier League’s Golden Boot and one behind the Champions League’s top scorer, within reach of leading both competitions for goals in successive seasons.

The statistics of Haaland are truly extraordinary, with 83 goals in 91 games since arriving at the Etihad. Whatever the recent comments regarding his all-round game suggest, he is a freak.

Read – Guardiola has ‘no fear’ of Real Madrid as Man City boss addresses Treble talk

See more – Guardiola delivers ‘incredible good news’ for Man City ahead of Real Madrid clash

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