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Opponent watch: Man City defender not in training ahead of Real Madrid encounter



Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

In what could be a boost for Real Madrid and a blow for Manchester City, Nathan Ake is not training with the team ahead of tomorrow’s UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, according to Simon Stone of BBC Sport.

The champions of Spain square off against their English counterparts in the semi-finals of Europe’s premier competition, in a replay of last season’s semis.

Having been eliminated while on the brink of qualification to the finals last time out, Manchester City have revenge on their minds heading into the semi-final tie.

However, they might have to make do without one of Pep Guardiola’s regulars in their side as defender Nathan Ake is nursing an injury and did not train with the team today.

The 28-year-old Netherlands international had returned from an injury only last week, but picked up a fresh one during the Cityzens’ Premier League clash against Leeds United on Saturday.

Ake had to be substituted ten minutes into the second half due to his injury, which cast doubts on his involvement in tomorrow’s clash.

And now, as per the update from Simon Stone, the Netherlands international was not seen in training with the rest of the team today, which could potentially hint that he might be out of the match.

This could come as a blow for Guardiola, given that Ake has been a critical part of his new system at City. The defender has played 38 times across all competitions, featuring as a centre-back and at left-back, and even scoring three goals.

A clearer picture of his availability should emerge later today when the manager appears for the pre-match press conference.

As for Real Madrid, they will have to make do without midfielder Dani Ceballos, who is out with a thigh injury.

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Real Madrid News

‘Give everything to win’ – Real Madrid UCL hero ready for Barcelona challenge



Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Andriy Lunin was Real Madrid’s main protagonist in the club’s narrow win over Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals.

Lunin is going to be in focus once again as Real Madrid brace themselves for another important encounter against Barcelona.

Speaking ahead of this crucial tie, Lunin talked about how Real Madrid will put the title race to an end if they can secure a win over Barça.

Lunin on Barcelona – Real Madrid clash

“It is clear that Clásico is a very important match. We are all clear that winning this Sunday can almost solve the League,” Lunin told TVE (h/t Mundo Deportivo).

“We have prepared ourselves in the best possible way to take three points, which are very important.”

Real Madrid are indeed heading into this game with a solid eight-point lead over Barcelona in the league table.

A win this evening could help them extend that gap to 11 points, effectively ruling Barça out of the title race.

Lunin is focused ahead of the Barcelona tie (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Real Madrid have attained an excellent record against Barcelona of late. Lunin, though, believes past encounters do not matter in a Clasico.

“In a match between Real Madrid and Barcelona the things that have happened are forgotten and everyone is concentrating,” the Ukrainian added.

Lunin went on to talk about Real Madrid’s gruelling schedule, with the Spanish giants coming on the back of a 120-minute encounter against Man City.

“It is true that last stretch of the season is very demanding. The team played 120 minutes in Manchester, it was good to suffer and overcome difficulties. Now we have Barça at home, with our people and we have no choice but to give everything to win,” he said.

Lunin also talked about his watered-down celebration following his penalty heroics against Man City, adding, “I am a quiet and rather shy person, but within me, I had tremendous joy. I already said after the game that I was the happiest person in the world.”

Finally, the goalkeeper was asked about his future at Real Madrid, with his current deal at Santiago Bernabeu expiring in 2025.

“Real Madrid has been a dream since I was little, but now it is time for the most important games of the season and we have to be focused because we have to get the best result from what we have left. Then we will talk about the papers (contract) and other things,” he concluded.

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