Manchester City holds a 2-1 lead with two away goals ahead of Man City vs Real Madrid UEFA Champions League last 16-second leg. Champions League fans can book Champions League Final Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.
Pep Guardiola must name what is arguably his most important starting XI of the season. Real Madrid visit the Etihad in the Champions League. Plenty has changed in the five months since Manchester City beat Real at the Bernabeu in February. Sergio Aguero’s injury potentially a huge blow to Guardiola’s side.
But in Gabriel Jesus, City has a fine replacement who was influential and scored in the first leg. Aside from Aguero, City will also have to replace Benjamin Mendy, who is suspended for the second leg. Joao Cancelo starting the final two games of the Premier League season at left-back in apparent preparation for this game.
Guardiola will also have huge selection calls to make in central defence. With wantaway defender Eric Garcia only having 90 minutes of Champions League experience. Finishing the league season as Aymeric Laporte’s first-choice partner.
Pep has some big calls to make, not least at centre back where Eric Garcia has made a big pitch for a place in recent weeks – but Fernandinho’s experience, and use of the ball, give him a slight edge for me. Joao Cancelo has done enough to grab left-back, and will add useful pace to the backline.
Rodri’s extra beef and height should give him the nod over Ilkay Gundogan as holding midfielder – just about – and I would go for Bernardo Silva’s extreme work rate ahead of David Silva’s magic as the third midfielder, with City defending a lead.
Up top, Riyad Mahrez gives you the ability to score a goal from nothing, and I would switch Raheem Sterling to a withdrawn central striker role and put Gabriel Jesus back in the left-sided role which saw him a man of the match at the Bernabeu.
The city has the advantage on the scoreline but will have had it drilled into them that they will have to work their socks off for 90-plus minutes. Because of that, they will need runners. It’s a toss-up between Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden for the right-wing spot but although Foden has been in an excellent form.
I think he may be better coming off the bench against tired legs. Sterling and Jesus have to play, offering both works off the ball and movement in an attack that could see them switch positions through the game. Rodri and Gundogan have taken some stick this season with the consensus of many being that they slow the team down.
The City will still need to contain Madrid through the middle and it certainly worked in the first leg. In defence, Joao Cancelo is better defensively than Aleks Zinchenko. While I would have given Eric Garcia the nod over Fernandinho. Reckon Guardiola’s offering at the press conference suggests he is out.
I’d try to keep the City team as close to the XI that caused Real the most problems in the first leg. That means Fernandinho and Aymeric Laporte in defence. Eric Garcia feels like too big a risk to play in a game of this magnitude. He’s risen to every challenge thrown at him so far.
He hasn’t had the likes of Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard targeting him before. Raheem Sterling came off the bench to win City’s decisive penalty. He should start on the left as Gabriel Jesus moves into the central striker role. In midfield, the experience of David Silva and energy of Bernardo Silva will be useful.
I’d start Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri again to stop Real from getting a foothold in the tie. Silva deserves to feature at some point, though, in what will be his final appearance at the Etihad as a City player.
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