Real Madrid take on Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday, with the Premier League side possessing a one-goal lead from a thrilling first meeting.
The first leg proved a classic Champions League contest as City won 4-3 at the Etihad and the neutrals will be hoping for another enthralling match up as the teams renew rivalries this week.
Ahead of the clash we’ve assessed two talent-stacked squads to compile our best Real Madrid vs Manchester City combined XI.
Goalkeeper: Ederson – Manchester City
There’s little to choose between the respective goalkeepers with each integral to their sides, though we’ve opted for Ederson ahead of Thibaut Courtois.
Each have kept four clean sheets in this season’s competition, though it is Ederson who wins the battle when it comes to domestic shut-outs having managed five more (19) than Courtois this season (14).
Courtois can better Ederson for both saves and save percentage in the Champions League, but the elite and unique distribution of the latter earns him inclusion in our combined XI.
Right-back: Joao Cancelo – Manchester City
Joao Cancelo will return from suspension for the second leg in Spain and his availability will come as a huge boost to Manchester City.
Kyle Walker remains a doubt and right-back proved a problem position in the absence of the duo during the first leg at the Etihad.
Joao Cancelo’s game by numbers vs Leeds:
100% tackles won
100% aerial duels won
100% shot accuracy
86% pass accuracy
14 ball recoveries
7 duels won
5 attempted take-ons
3 successful take-on
3 long balls completed
2 chances created
Equally class at RB and LB. 👏 pic.twitter.com/rrGneVqFcJ
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) April 30, 2022
Cancelo has starred in both full-back positions this season and has excelled in the Champions League, providing five goals and assists in just eight European starts.
Centre-back: Ruben Dias – Manchester City
Manchester City’s defensive leader has returned to the fold in recent weeks after injury and remains a cornerstone of Pep Guardiola’s side.
The Portugal international was named as the FWA Footballer of the Year during a brilliant debut season at the Etihad and has cemented his status as one of the Premier League’s best centre-backs.
Yesss! Eat, rest and again! 🦈👊🏼 pic.twitter.com/Zeh6wmm3oP
— Rúben Dias (@rubendias) April 30, 2022
Dias will be searching for calm from his side in the Bernabeu after the chaos of the first leg in Manchester.
Centre-back: Aymeric Laporte – Manchester City
Aymeric Laporte edges out Eder Militao for a place in this side, with both John Stones and David Alaba major doubts for the second leg.
Laporte has regained the trust of Pep Guardiola to emerge as Dias’ first-choice partner for much of the season and leads the Premier League for pass accuracy (94.8%), passes into the final third (287) and progressive carrying distance.
Real Madrid and Barcelona have both been linked with moves to bring the Spain international back to La Liga in recent months.
Left-back: Ferland Mendy – Real Madrid
Ferland Mendy will hope to return to the side for the second leg after recent injury problems, having played a major role in Real Madrid’s success at the Etihad.
The France international has struggled with fitness problems this season but provided two assists in the Spanish side’s first leg defeat.
His chief focus ahead of the return will be containing City’s depth of attacking talent, however, with Riyad Mahrez or Raheem Sterling expected to be his direct opponent.
Midfield: Rodri – Manchester City
Rodri has quietly established himself as a fulcrum of the Manchester City side with his influence felt at both ends of the pitch, whether the Spaniard is exerting control of possession or breaking up opposition attacks at the base of the midfield.
His form this season has been the best of his career and it is now unimaginable that Pep Guardiola would leave the defensive midfielder out of his best XI, following his criticised decision to start last season’s Champions League final without a recognised anchor.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 1, 2022
It’s a testament to Rodri’s improvement that he now commands automatic status and recent back-to-back goals in the Premier League have taken his total for the season to five, as many as the 25-year-old managed in the past two seasons combined.
Midfield: Luka Modric – Real Madrid
Luka Modric might be reaching the final stages of an incredible career but the Croatian schemer still oozes class, his performance in Real Madrid’s quarter-final win over Chelsea a reminder of his evergreen quality.
The 36-year-old remains a relentless runner and will act as Madrid’s metronome in the second leg, with the Spanish side’s build-up play set to run through the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner.
That ball from Modric! 😱
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 12, 2022
His vision and ability to pick passes through lines will be crucial to Real Madrid’s hopes of overturning their first leg defeat.
Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City
A certainty for this side and arguably the most complete midfielder in world football, it took Kevin De Bruyne less than two minutes to put his stamp on the first leg – scoring the fastest ever goal in a Champions League semi-final.
The Belgian ended the first meeting with a goal and assist in a big-game performance from City’s man for the big occasion and he will be looked to again for inspiration at the Bernabeu.
🔵 De Bruyne at home on the elite stage…
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 2, 2022
He will enter the second leg in fine form, having provided 11 goals and assists in his last nine appearances across all competitions.
Right-wing: Riyad Mahrez – Manchester City
Riyad Mahrez has enjoyed the most productive season of his Manchester City career this term, leading the club’s goal charts with 23 in all competitions.
The Algeria international was the decisive player in last season’s UCL semi-final success, scoring three goals as City beat PSG on aggregate to reach a maiden final.
Mahrez’s match-winning ability could again decide a huge Champions League tie and containing the winger will be central to Real Madrid’s hopes of progress.
Left-wing: Vinicius Junior – Real Madrid
Vinicius Junior has taken giant strides towards fulfilling his potential this season, with the winger’s output having exploded during the 2021/22 campaign.
The 21-year-old has scored 18 goals and provided 15 assists in all competitions, including a brilliant solo goal during the first leg meeting with City at the Etihad.
U21 players with the most involvements in Europe’s top five leagues:
▪️ Erling Haaland—29 (21 goals, 8 assists)
▪️ Vinícius Júnior—26 (14 goals, 12 assists)
▪️ Bukayo Saka—17 (11 goals, 6 assists)⁰▪️ Florian Wirtz—17 (7 goals, 10 assists)
— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 2, 2022
Blessed with blistering speed, agility, and improving end product, only Erling Haaland has been directly involved in more goals among u21 players in Europe’s top five league this season.
Forward: Karim Benzema – Real Madrid
Karim Benzema’s brilliance has kept Real Madrid alive in the tie ahead of the second leg, with the forward scoring twice to keep his side in with a fighting chance.
Benzema is playing the best football of his career despite celebrating his 34th birthday earlier in the campaign, having scored 42 goals in 42 appearances across all competitions for the Spanish champions.
Karim Benzema’s Real Madrid career by numbers:
◉ 601 games
◉ 321 goals
🏆 4x LaLiga
🏆 4x UCL
🏆 4x Club World Cup
🏆 4x Super Cup
🏆 3x Supercopa
🏆 2x Copa del Rey
And he could add another UCL next month. 😉 pic.twitter.com/Wjw97C80Y7
— Squawka (@Squawka) April 30, 2022
The leading scorer in this season’s Champions League after netting 14 goals so far, he is favourite to be named as winner of the Ballon d’Or later this year.
A fifth Champions League success would go some way to improving his chances.