On Tuesday night, the world will have its eyes fixed on the gargantuan clash between Real Madrid and Manchester City. The two European giants face off for a place in the final of the UEFA Champions League in what will be a treat to watch.
The last time the two sides met, Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos had games to forget. The former had two errors directly leading to goal, while the latter was sent off in the first leg.
Eventually, City walked out of the game with a 4-2 win on aggregate, with two goals from Gabriel Jesus, and one each from Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne.
The first leg is set to take place at the Etihad Stadium and the reverse fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu. Ahead of the game, there is nothing but respect between the two sides, and Ilkay Gudogan is the latest to follow suit.
The German international was asked about Karim Benzema’s unreal form this season.
“For me, Benzema is currently the best striker in the world alongside Lewandowski,” he said, as relayed by SPORT1.
Further, he went on to say that the Real Madrid striker was a clear candidate to take home the Ballon d’Or this season.
“Benzema definitely has what it takes to become the next Ballon d’Or winner.”
The striker has started 29 games for Real Madrid in La Liga, scoring 25 goals and providing 11 assists. In the Champions League, he has found the back of the net 12 times and has recorded one assist, pioneering back to back comebacks for Los Blancos.
Meanwhile, Gundogan has been vital for Pep Guardiola’s plans. In 17 starts for the Premier League champions, he has scored six goals and provided four assists. With 1.5 key passes per game and six big chances created, he has been ever-reliable for the manager.
Ancelotti considering playing a makeshift centre-back pairing for Real Madrid against Valencia – report
Real Madrid will take on Valencia on Saturday, looking to maintain their solid lead at the top of the league table.
The Spanish giants are leading the standing with a six-point lead over Girona. A win against Valencia could help them solidify their position at the top while potentially opening up an opportunity to extend the lead to more than six points.
Heading into this game, though, Carlo Ancelotti is facing multiple setbacks, especially in the defensive unit, with Eder Militao, David Alaba and Thibaut Courtois still missing due to injuries.
This will once again put pressure on Ancelotti, as far as the team selection is concerned.
Rudiger & Tchouameni to partner at centre-back vs Valencia
Fortunately for the Real Madrid coach, much of his experimentations this season have worked, including Aurelien Tchouameni’s supreme performances at centre-back.
With that in mind, Diario AS reports Ancelotti is considering playing a makeshift central defensive pair against Valencia, comprising Antonio Rudiger and Tchouameni.
This is not the first time the young Frenchman will have to accompany Rudiger at centre-back. He did so earlier in the year when Real Madrid took on RCD Mallorca.
Interestingly, Real Madrid were able to retain a clean sheet, with Rudiger scoring the winning goal, in a narrow 1-0 victory.
What are Ancelotti’s other options?
Ancelotti will be hoping for a similar outcome this time around. However, it must be noted that the Italian will be boosted by the return of Dani Carvajal from suspension.
The veteran Spaniard can be an option at centre-back. But given the way how Tchouameni has impressed onlookers with his performances at centre-back, there is very little reason why he shouldn’t continue in the position.
Tchouameni has even been compared to Javier Mascherano by former Spanish coach Roberto Moreno.
Other than Carvajal, though, Nacho Fernandez is another option for Ancelotti. But the veteran defender is suffering with discomfort and Ancelotti has no plans to risk it.