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Will Militão start for Real Madrid in UCL second leg against Man City?

After missing the first leg through suspension, Éder Militão isn’t guaranteed to reclaim his place in the XI for Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final return.

Militao con Maksimovic.

A few weeks ago, it was a given that Éder Militão would return to the Real Madrid line-up for the Champions League semi-final second leg against Manchester City, after serving a one-match ban in the opener. However, the centre-back’s inclusion at the Etihad Stadium seems less certain now.

Alaba and Rüdiger could keep Militão out against City

Firstly, because Antonio Rüdiger and David Alaba performed excellently in central defence in the 1-1 first-leg draw at the Bernabéu last week. Secondly, because Militão has experienced an alarming drop-off in form in recent games. Were he to remain on the bench in Manchester, it would be the first time he has missed successive matches in the Champions League since February 2021.

Militão has hit rough patch since UCL quarters

For three-quarters of the season, the Brazilian’s commanding displays have made him the one member of Madrid’s backline who has been a nailed-on starter. It has simply been a question of which of Alaba, Rüdiger and Nacho Fernández has partnered him at the heart of the defence.

However, Militão has performed poorly in the domestic games Madrid have played since knocking Chelsea out of the Champions League quarter-finals in mid-April. The 25-year-old was particularly disappointing in Los Blancos’ LaLiga defeats to Girona and Real Sociedad at the end of April and the start of May, respectively. Over the past month, he has set about draining all the credit he had built up this term.

Defender “needs to wake up” - Ancelotti

Asked about the Militão’s dip in form, Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti didn’t hesitate to give the player a clip around the ears after the 2-0 loss to La Real, telling reporters: “He needs to wake up quickly.” In San Sebastián, a calamitous error by the defender led to the hosts’ opener, as Take Kubo pounced on his wayward backpass to score from close range. Seven days earlier, Militão had been involved - to a greater or lesser degree - in all four Girona goals in a 4-2 reverse at Montilivi.

Militão in action against Getafe on Saturday.
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Militão in action against Getafe on Saturday.THOMAS COEXAFP

Militão mightily impressive until April

Until then, he had had an impeccable season. Given the inconsistent form shown by Alaba and Rüdiger this year - until marking City’s Erling Haaland out of the semi-final first leg, the latter had been stuck in a sluggish process of adaptation to life at the Bernabéu - Militão had been the undisputed marshal of the Madrid defence.

The Brazil international is one of a quartet of Madrid players who have been almost constant presences in the European champions’ starting XI. Of the 47 appearances he has made this season, 44 have been as a starter, the same amount as goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. Only Vinícius Júnior (50) and Fede Valverde (47) have started more games for Madrid this term.

To go with his defensive prowess, Militão has this season begun to contribute more going forward. He had chipped in with a few goals in his year at Porto, but had been less forthcoming in attack in his first three campaigns in Spanish soccer. This year, though, he has netted seven times in all competitions (five in LaLiga, one in the Champions League and one in the Copa del Rey). Militão’s aerial ability has particularly come to the fore: six of his goals have been scored with his head.

But his shaky recent defensive displays, allied with Rüdiger and Alaba’s impressive partnership against City, have left Ancelotti with a dilemma as the Italian prepares his side for Wednesday’s crunch clash in Manchester.

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