Real Madrid vs Manchester City: Champions League team news and predicted XIs
All the latest team news ahead of the Champions League semi-final, second leg fixture between Real Madrid and Manchester City at the Bernabéu on 4 May.
Real Madrid host Manchester City in a game neutrals will hope delivers seven goals as the first leg in the Etihad did last week, when Pep Guardiola’s side won 4-3 but may have been left feeling they should have finished the job given the number of chances they created against Carlo Ancelotti’s visitors. City were 2-0 up just after the 10-minute mark and chalked up 16 attempts, also rattling the woodwork through Riyadh Mahrez as the hosts capitalized on one of those days for Madrid’s back four.
However, Madrid clawed their way back into the tie through Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior, the Frenchman’s 82nd minute penalty representing his ninth goal in the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League. As long as Benzema is on the pitch, Madrid will believe. The 34-year-old is arguably the best in his position on the planet on current form.
Rodrygo pushing for a start against City
Carlo Ancelotti had the luxury of resting most of his preferred starting XI against Espanyol at the weekend as Madrid confirmed their domestic dominance by securing the LaLiga title with four games to spare, beating the Catalan outfit 4-0 and barely breaking sweat. Rodrygo scored twice and did his prospects of starting against City no harm at all: the Brazilian rarely disappoints in the Champions League and was selected ahead of Marco Asensio and Fede Valverde in Manchester, even if he was hauled off after 70 minutes for Eduardo Camavinga to add some steel to the midfield.
Guardiola still has the Premier League to consider and fielded a strong side at Leeds, recording the same scoreline as Madrid did against Espanyol, but one notable absentee was Kevin de Bruyne – also arguably the best in his position on the planet – who remained on the bench and firmly away from any overly robust challenges. Mahrez was also reserved on the day and the two are nailed-on starters in the Bernabéu after they carved Madrid apart in the opening leg.
Real Madrid: injuries and suspensions
David Alaba was withdrawn at half time in the opening leg and did not feature against Espanyol, with the Austrian defender making the squad for Wednesday but perhapd doubtful to start. Madrid will be by the return of Casemiro, who was suspended for the game in Manchester and will return to his usual position screening the back four, which should give Madrid a bit more security at the back. If Alaba is deemed too risky, Nacho will come into the back four, which is a failsafe for Ancelotti, the vastly experienced utility man rarely putting in a below-par performance.
Eden Hazard remains out for Madrid but given the Belgian has mostly warmed the bench this season that is hardly an issue for Ancelotti, whose only real selection dilemma is whether to go with Rodrygo or Fede Valverde on the right of the front three.
Manchester City: injuries and suspensions
Like Ancelotti, Guardiola has a key man returning in João Cancelo, the Portuguese full back missing the first leg through suspension. John Stones remains doubtful so Kyle Walker may start at right back with Aymeric Laporte and Rubén Dias in the centre of defence. Again, like Ancelotti, Guardiola has decisions to make up front. Gabriel Jesus is in excellent form and should get the nod to start in the middle of the front three with Phil Foden and Mahrez in support. De Bruyne will probably occupy a slightly advanced midfield role with cover from Rodri and one of Ilkay Gündogan or Bernardo Silva.
Real Madrid vs Manchester City: possible starting XIs
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Militão, Nacho, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius.
Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo; Gündogan, Rodri, De Bruyne; Mahrez, Jesus, Foden.
When is the 2021/22 Champions League final?
The 2021/22 Champions League final will take place at Saint-Denis’s Stade de France on Saturday 28 May at 9:00 pm CEST. That’s 3:00 pm ET and 12:00 pm PT.