When the Champions League Round of 16 draws were announced on the 16th of December 2019, all eyes were glued on one particular match up that is Real Madrid vs Manchester City.
Ironically enough both the teams have suffered from indifferent form this season as they've failed to put together a string of wins.
Madrid after a bright start to the campaign have fallen two points behind fierce rivals FC Barcelona, with the most concerning issue for Zidane being his team's inability to kill off games and allowing their opposition to escape with a draw or a win in the dying moments. The Los Blancos fans will be hoping for City to have an off day on the matchday because City's stars can completely humiliate any team in the world when in full flow.
Talking of Manchester City, having received a two-year ban from European Competitions and being 25 points behind Liverpool in the title race, they are not having the best of seasons. With Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte back to full fitness and available for selection, City might fancy themselves a chance of going through to quarters at the expense of Madrid.
So, here is a playing XI of Manchester City and Real Madrid combined.
1. Goalkeeper : Thibaut Courtois
This season the 6 foot 6 Belgian shot stopper has regained the kind of form that put him in the same conversation as Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Jan Oblak and David de Gea a few seasons ago. Since his move from Stamford Bridge in 2018 Courtois has shown indifferent form but this season he is back to his best.
Courtois has kept 11 clean sheets in league so far and has also helped Madrid maintain the best defensive record in Spain. While his Champions League stats ask for more, Madrid’s lackluster European campaign is largely let down due to poor form shown by the defenders.
2. Left-Back : Ferland Mendy
Many have tried and failed but Ferland Mendy is probably the only left-back who has truly managed to keep Marcelo out of the Real Madrid’s starting XI. Having made 23 appearances this season, six of them coming off the bench Mendy has managed to put in 2.6 tackles and interceptions per 90 while he gets dribbled past only 0.3 times in a game.
Considering City’s left-backs are not performing at a level expected of them and have been very injury prone, this choice was a no brainer.
3. Center-Back : Raphael Varane
The Frenchman has been a rock at the back for the Los Blancos since the Pepe’s departure from the club. Tall, fast and technical, Varane has all the qualities an ideal centre back should posses. At 26, he is already a World Cup winner, four times Champions League winner and a two time La Liga winner.
This season he has been part of best defence in Spain and has played in all six group stage games for Zidane’s team.
4. Center-Back : Aymeric Laporte
The French trio in the back four is completed with the inclusion of Manchester City’s Laporte. Yes he hasn’t played a lot of football this season due to injuries but it’s the sheer quality that he brings to the side that he’s been picked over Sergio Ramos. The Frenchman brings a sense of calmness around him whenever he plays and his ability to distribute the ball from the back is weighed in gold by Pep Guardiola.
It should come as no surprise that City have not lost any of the five games in which Laporte has played this season.
5. Right-Back : Dani Carvajal
The Real Madrid academy product has been their mainstay for the better part of the previous decade and has shown no signs of slowing down. The 28-year-old is a work horse, bombing up and down that right flank and putting in pin point crosses inside the box.
Carvajal has played 27 games this season and has been involved in five goals whilst also putting in 3.6 tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes.
6. Central Defensive Midfield : Casemiro
The Brazilian is widely considered as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world and rightly so, as his trophy laden career speaks for itself. Replacing the legendary Xabi Alonso, the Brazilian has been a regular starter for the Los Blancos whilst also putting in shifts as center back when required.
This season Casemiro has scored five goals and assisted three across all competitions but it is when he’s putting in his defensive duties that he really comes into his own. The Brazilian has 5.2 tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes whilst also making 1.7 clearances.
7. Central Midfield : Kevin De Bruyne
Arguably the best playmaker in the world. Kevin De Bruyne can do it all be it setting up goals for his teammates or scoring it himself. The Belgian leads the charts for assists in Premier League this season with 15 while he has also scored seven goals.
Real Madrid would be wary of the threat posed by the Belgian because on his day he can tear apart the best of the defences.
8. Central Midfield : Bernardo Silva
The options available for the third midfielder in this playing XI was mouth watering with Toni Kroos, Fede Valverde, Luka Modric, David Silva and Bernardo Silva to choose from. We finally decided upon the Portuguese midfielder.
Bernardo Silva can operate out wide on the left or right or through the middle. A hardworking player with the right attitude, Silva is often the player with the most distance covered in the game.
He has contributed to nine goals in 21 league games this season and being a big game player he would love to make a telling impact against the most successful team in European competition.
9. Right-Wing : Raheem Sterling
No player has improved as much as Sterling has under Pep Guardiola since the Spaniard joined Man City. The Englishman has scored 11 goals in league this season whilst scoring five in six Champions League outings.
A constant goal threat down the left-wing, Sterling with his pace, dribbling and goal scoring ability can give nightmare to the best of defenders.
10. Left-Wing : Riyad Mahrez
The Algerian has rejuvenated himself this season in the absence of Leroy Sane as he has made most of the opportunities thrown at him by Pep Guardiola. Mahrez has contributed to 14 goals in league this season and is often the player who sees most of the ball when City are in search of an equalizer or a winner.
Possessing a gem of a left foot, Mahrez is likely to give Real Madrid’s defence a run for their money.
11. Striker : Karim Benzema
Real Madrid’s most potent goal threat since Cristiano Ronaldo left foe Juventus, Karim Benzema has improved by leaps and bounds. The Frenchman has been the Los Blancos’s top scorer this season and has directly contributed to 28 goals in 35 competitive games.
Often scoring the winning goals or making a significant contribution I game changing moments, Benzema will have to be at his best if Madrid wish to brush aside City