Man City v Real Madrid team news, with Guardiola making six changes for Champions League tie
Pep Guardiola is ready to make the changes and call up his rested stars for the Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid.
Manchester City face their toughest test of the season so far, with Pep Guardiola gearing up to face Champions League champions Real Madrid in the semi-final first leg on Tuesday. City tasted defeat on their latest visit to the Santiago Bernabéu, losing 3-1 on the night in a 6-5 aggregate defeat and Guardiola hopes his in-form side can correct some mistakes from last season’s competition to give themselves a chance. reaching the final.
City defeated Bundesliga side RB Leipzig thanks to incredible goals from Erling Haaland and knocked out German giants Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals to reach the semi-finals for the third consecutive season.
But after suffering that painful defeat in the Spanish capital, Guardiola knows he must earn his place in the national team to gain revenge on Los Blancos and move closer to ending his 12-year wait for a third Champions League title as manager.
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Having chosen to rest several of his players in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Leeds United, the Catalan will have almost an entire squad of in-form stars to choose from. Express Sport examines what City’s squad could look like against Real Madrid.
Goalkeeper – Ederson
The last time the Brazilian kept a clean sheet was in a 3-0 win over Bayern at the Etihad Stadium in March, and City’s defense have let a few avoidable goals slip since then. But even a daring manager like Guardiola wouldn’t think of dropping his trusty number 1 in such a crucial game.
There will be some concerns that the best striker is playing for Real Madrid’s whites, although Ederson’s skills on the ball will be crucial in allowing City to build on defence.
Injured in the run-up to the game, the 30-year-old Stefan Ortega kept a clean sheet in a 3-0 win over West Ham – his first league appearance of the season – so City remain in good hands regardless.
Defenders – Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Manuel Akanji
A year ago, an injury to Nathan Ake would have been insignificant for Guardiola in the run-up to a game of this magnitude. But it is undeniable that the loss of the Dutchman will affect City’s effectiveness in their new 3-2-4-1.
The absence of a natural left-hander could give the Premier League champions some difficulty playing in defence. However, Akanji has proven to be a solid substitute anywhere in the back line and could be preferred over Aymeric Laporte.
Rico Lewis has been an excellent right-back and midfield hybrid of late, but the youngster’s inexperience compared to Walker means the 32-year-old is sure to be in the starting line-up, given his ability to match the dangerous Vinicius Junior on pace too. .
Midfielders – John Stones, Rodri
A player with Rodri’s leadership and Stones’ comfort in playing the hybrid role means Guardiola can relax in using the duo as forward midfielders to set the pace.
Lewis has been effective on paper and offers a more agile presence against the likes of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Federico Valverde. But there’s no substitute for experience, with Rodri and Stones both players who have been there and won numerous trophies under Guardiola – they have the know-how for the big occasion.
It will be a big test for Stones to carry the ball through the congested areas in the middle, but the England international is in fine form and will certainly be recalled. Ilkay Gundogan, fresh off scoring two goals against Leeds, could be content with the bench after receiving a rebuke from Guardiola for his missed penalty.
Forwards – Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, Jack Grealish, Erling Haaland
Real Madrid may feel they have the upper hand with Vinicius, Karim Benzema and Rodrygo, but City’s front line has been firing on all cylinders lately with Haaland in devastating form. Likewise, De Bruyne looked right at home as he teamed up with the Norwegian in a one-on-one attack against Arsenal and it would come as no surprise to see the same tactics used against Real Madrid.
Julian Alvarez’s energy could be critical in the latter stages of the game if the visitors demand a goal and Guardiola may prefer to keep him as an ace in his pocket, with Bernardo Silva joining De Bruyne to do the leg work between the two boxers .
And with 12 goals already in the competition, taking his total to 51 in all competitions, Haaland will be hoping to increase his tally in Spain as the sole striker.
Man City likely starting lineup (3-2-4-1): Ederson; Walker, Dias, Akanji; Stones, Rodri; Bernardo, De Bruyne, Grealish; Haaland.