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Jack Grealish out and Ederson returns – Predicted Man City XI vs Real Madrid in Champions League

Jack Grealish out and Ederson returns - Predicted Man City XI vs Real Madrid in Champions League

When Manchester City plays Real Madrid in their Champions League quarterfinal first leg on Tuesday, at least two of their starting defenders will be out, and a third may be missing as well.

Kyle Walker finished his individual training on Monday, but he hasn’t left for Spain because he wasn’t considered fit enough to play. Thus, Pep Guardiola might need to consider alternative strategies for containing Vinicius Jr., a quick winger for Real Madrid.

Nathan Ake, who hasn’t played since missing a game against Arsenal eight days ago due to a leg injury, is another player he is unable to use for this. Even without the potential absence of Josko Gvardiol, it leaves City’s defensive ranks excessively stretched.

The Croatian, who made the trip squad, was substituted at halftime during Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Crystal Palace due to a minor leg issue. He was not visible on Monday. Due to the fact that Ruben Dias is one yellow card away from suspension, he must pass a late fitness test.

After the quarterfinals, cumulative booking bans are eliminated, but a player who receives a red card is still out of the game. To avoid a suspension, Dias must play through two legs against Real without receiving a caution.

Given City’s whittled defensive depth, Guardiola is left with little choice but to play him at the Bernabeu. Rico Lewis, a 19-year-old with obvious talent, may be too risky to start at right-back against Vinicius.

Thus, the City manager might go back to the 3-2-4-1 configuration that won him the championship the previous year. Ederson’s comeback, which comes after he collided with Darwin Nunez during last month’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool, is encouraging for City.

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Given his inconsistent play on the right of the back three, John Stones might be asked to play there. Manuel Akanji and Dias could round out the backline. It’s possible that seasoned former Madrid player Mateo Kovacic will be assigned to support pivot Rodri and aid in defense; Stones is unlikely to be allowed to roam freely in this specific configuration.

In the midst of City’s defensive crisis last season, Bernardo Silva was famously used as a left wing-back; he won’t be used in that position going forward. When facing Vincius Jr., he might be asked to retreat from the right wing and supply an additional body.

It’s hardly shocking that Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne play in the central attacking midfield positions. Starting Jeremy Doku on the left to take on 32-year-old Dani Carvajal seems wise, even though Jack Grealish has Madrid playing experience.

Erling Haaland scored his 19th Premier League goal against Palace on Saturday, but his “abysmal” form has seen him score just six goals in his seven Champions League games this season. He did not contribute to any of City’s five goals against Real Madrid in the previous season, despite the irony. He will be desperate to correct that.

Ederson; Stones, Dias, Akanji; Rodri, Kovacic; Silva, De Bruyne, Foden, Doku; Haaland are the predicted Man City XI (3-2-4-1).

 

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