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Champions League

Man City-Real Madrid: team news, injuries, suspensions, possible starting XIs

Manchester City host Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals with defensive issues to the fore for both Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti.

Update:
Pep Guardiola will seek to mastermind a route to the Champions League final against old foe Real Madrid.
JASON CAIRNDUFFAction Images via Reuters

Manchester City and Real Madrid will lock horns again in the Champions League semi-finals in a repeat of the match-up between the sides at the same stage in the 2015-16 competition. Those two games did not live long in the memory, a solitary deflected Gareth Bale strike (which went down as a Fernando own goal), breaking the monotony of a 180-minute contest neither side decided to attack in any meaningful way. Two seasons ago, the sides met again in the last 16. On that occasion, Pep Guardiola got the better of Zinedine Zidane over two legs, carving out a 4-2 aggregate victory that was largely inspired by Gabriel Jesus, who found the net in both legs.

Jesus to save City again?

The current form of the Brazil forward is an interesting conundrum for both managers. Jesus has started just one Champions League game this season and has chalked up just 191 minutes in Europe, yet still has three goals and an assist in the competition. The departure of Ferran Torres in January has opened the door to more involvement for Jesus and he started in the first leg of the quarter-final against Atlético but was suspended for the second. Having scored four in a 5-1 destruction of Watford at the weekend, it seems unlikely that Guardiola will “overthink” his front line on Tuesday, but the Spaniard’s love of a false nine approach involving Phil Foden will keep his opposite number guessing.

Ancelotti of course has no such tendency to tinker with his forward line, or with any other aspect of his side. The Italian has rarely rotated this season and the drop-off in minutes played from his favoured 16 is significant. Eduardo Camavinga is the final name on Ancelotti’s list of trusted players, the young France midfielder chalking up 1,328 minutes in 2021-22. Next in line is Eden Hazard, who has barely played in 2022 and has been used for only 877′ all season. The form and fitness of Karim Benzema, who has bagged hat-tricks in consecutive Champions League games, and Vinicius Junior leaves just one place in the Italian’s 4-3-3, generally occupied by Marco Asensio, who is these days more solid than spectacular but has popped up to make the difference a handful of times.

City and Madrid concerns at the back

It is in the rearguard that both Ancelotti and Guardiola will be forced to shuffle their decks. David Alaba and Casemiro are doubts for Madrid, although Ancelotti will have little concern about throwing Camavinga into such a game with the Brazilian’s powers not currently at their fullest in any case. Nacho, as ever, provides a guarantee for any position across the back line.

Guardiola has wider issues: marauding full-back João Cancelo is suspended and there are doubts over the fitness of both Kyle Walker and John Stones, which will force the Spaniard into a defensive reshuffle. Guardiola has experience and guile in Rubén Dias and Aymeric Laporte while Nathan Aké can slot in either on the left or the middle of the back four with Oleksandr Zinchenko offering another option.

Manchester City predicted XI vs Real Madrid

Ederson; Walker, Laporte, Dias, Aké; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gündogan; Mahrez, Foden, Sterling.

Real Madrid predicted XI vs Manchester City

Courtois; Carvajal, Militão, Alaba, Mendy; Camavinga, Kroos, Modric; Vinicius, Benzema, Asensio.

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