Real Madrid are set to take on one of the best sides in Europe in Manchester City tonight at the Etihad Stadium for the UEFA Champions League semi-finals first leg. Carlo Ancelotti has fielded a side he thinks is best for this encounter, with a few surprising picks.
Casemiro has been deemed unfit for this game and starts from the bench. His place has been taken by Federico Valverde. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are the other midfielders in the trident, unsurprisingly.
Madrid receive a major boost in the defence, though, as David Alaba returns to the starting lineup. He is partnered alongside Eder Militao, while Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy take the responsibility of flanking the back-four from the right and left respectively.
Thibaut Courtois will don the gloves, hoping for yet another show-stopper performance in goal.
The striker and left-winger pick themselves in Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr. On the right, however, we will see Rodrygo start over Marco Asensio despite the goal on the weekend.
Official Madrid XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Modric, Valverde, Kroos; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius
Real Madrid forward set for talks with Arsenal this week – report
With less than six months left on his contract, Marco Asensio looks to be on his way out of Real Madrid very soon. The Spaniard has not yet started talks to extend his contract with the Spanish giants, which has garnered the eyes from several top clubs across Europe.
One of the clubs interested in his signature happens to be Premier League leaders Arsenal. Mikel Arteta is said to be a fan of the player, and will try to be bring him to North London on a free transfer this summer.
According to Mirror, Asensio’s agents will fly to London this week to get an a better understanding Arsenal’s interest in the player. Talks are scheduled with Arsenal, among possibly other clubs.
Asensio’s priority remains to extend with Arsenal, but not at ‘any cost’. The winger is looking for raise with his new contract to go along with a four-year deal. The report states that he currently earns around €130,000 per week at Madrid.
The 27-year-old has been waiting for an official offer from Los Blancos for a while, but the club will wait for March or April before taking a decision on his extension.
Asensio took a while to grow important for Carlo Ancelotti this season, but has been featuring regularly on the right-wing lately. He even scored in 2-0 win against Valencia in midweek, taking his tally to two for the season, excluding three assists as well.
Arsenal are definitely looking to add more firepower to their squad for next season, having already brought in Leandro Trossard in the winter. Asensio could serve as the perfect backup to Bukayo Saka, who has been in incredible form all season.