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Combined XI: Manchester City vs. Real Madrid

Ahead of Friday's Champions League clash between Manchester City and Real Madrid, Sports Mole picks a combined XI from both squads.

Manchester City will welcome Real Madrid to the Etihad Stadium on Friday night for the second leg of their last-16 clash in the Champions League.

Pep Guardiola's side recorded a 2-1 victory when the pair locked horns in the reverse game back in February, meaning that Madrid will need to win in Manchester to make the final eight once again.

City relinquished control of the Premier League title this season, but Madrid will enter the match as the reigning Spanish champions, having wrestled the La Liga crown away from Barcelona.

These two sides have met on five previous occasions in European competition, with Los Blancos leading the head-to-head record two victories to one, while there have also been two draws.

There will be a lot of quality on display at the Etihad Stadium and with that in mind, Sports Mole picks a combined XI from both squads, using only players available for the contest.


Combined XI: MNC vs. RMA

The goalkeeping spot in this particular XI was actually incredibly difficult to pick. Indeed, both Thibaut Courtois and Ederson have enjoyed strong campaigns, and their numbers across the board are very similar. Courtois has conceded 30 times in his 42 appearances this season, keeping 21 clean sheets, while Ederson has conceded 33 times in his 42 outings across all competitions, posting 20 clean sheets.

Ederson's record in the Champions League this season is superior, though, and we have therefore just gone for the Brazil international, who also picked up the Premier League Golden Glove for the 2019-20 campaign.

Had Sergio Ramos not been suspended then we would have selected a back three here, but the Spaniard's absence due to his red card in the first leg, means that it is a four, with Madrid pair Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy taking the full-back positions. Raphael Varane is also an absolute certainty due to his impressive form this term, and it was not difficult to pick Aymeric Laporte alongside the Frenchman.

City's defensive problems have been well documented this season, but Madrid only conceded 25 times in their 38 league matches during the 2019-20 campaign, with the Spanish giants certainly improving in that area of the field. As a result, it is not too much of a surprise that the defensive part of this XI is dominated by Los Blancos.

Further forward, the midfield three needs a defensive presence, and we have selected Casemiro over City pair Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan, while Toni Kroos has been key to Madrid's form post-lockdown, meaning that the Croatia international edges out teammates Luka Modric and Federico Valverde to become the fifth Madrid player in this team.

Kevin De Bruyne, meanwhile, sails into the side, with the Belgium international enjoying another wonderful campaign for the Citizens. He has scored 15 goals and registered 23 assists in 46 appearances for Guardiola's side this term, including one goal and two assists in the Champions League.

The absence of Sergio Aguero through injury means that it is straightforward to pick Karim Benzema at the tip of the attack, and the 32-year-old has again been in excellent form for Madrid this season, netting 26 times and registering 11 assists in 47 appearances in all competitions. Benzema has four goals and two assists in the Champions League this term, meanwhile, and is in the middle of a front three here.

Raheem Sterling was another certainty, having come up with 30 goals and nine assists in 50 appearances for City this season, including five goals and four assists in seven Champions League outings.

The final spot in the team was difficult to pick, but we have ultimately gone for talent over form. Indeed, Eden Hazard has only managed one goal since arriving at Madrid from Chelsea, with injuries and various fitness issues preventing the Belgium international from reaching previous heights. The 29-year-old showed during his time at Stamford Bridge that he is one of the top players in world football, though, and he therefore cannot be left out of this combined XI, which would certainly be capable of winning some trophies.

ID:409188:

Who will progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, Manchester City or Real Madrid?

Manchester City
Real Madrid
Manchester City
52.9%
Real Madrid
47.1%
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Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema celebrates with teammates after scoring against Alaves on July 10, 2020
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