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Real Madrid – Manchester City ‘combined XI’ ahead of Champions League clash

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Photo by DAVE THOMPSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Two of the biggest names in world football at the moment are set to go head-to-head in a mouthwatering clash in the UEFA Champions League semifinals.

Real Madrid and Manchester City have an indisputable amount of pedigree flowing through their squads across every position. And if a combined XI was to be made with the two rosters, the result would be a team with frightening quality.

Let us take a look at a hypothetical combined XI consisting of the best players from each side.

Goalkeeper

Thibaut Courtois

An incredibly tough choice, as Ederson and Thibaut Courtois, are two of the best keepers in the world. It comes down to weighing up the pros and cons of the system.

So, while Ederson fits the Man City system so well due to his impeccable distribution, if this team were to choose a goalkeeper down to pure shot-stopping ability, Thibaut Courtois gets in ahead of the Brazilian.

Massive presence. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Few keepers have been as reliable as the Belgian when it comes to saves or thwarting attackers in 1-v-1 scenarios.

This season (per fbref and in their respective leagues) Courtois has faced 107 shots, saving 79 of them with a save percentage of 74.8%, while Ederson has saved 50 shots out of the 72 he has faced with a percentage of 72.2%.

Defenders

Kyle Walker – Ruben Dias – Eder Militao – Joao Cancelo

At left-back, there can be no qualms about the selection of Joao Cancelo. The Portuguese has arguably been the best left-back in the world this season, and arguably one of the most efficient players in the world in general.

Cancelo has three goals and nine assists from left-back this season across all competitions, making him a major threat going forward, and his recovery pace is a huge asset while defending.

Complete. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

At centre-back, there is a lot to choose from. David Alaba, John Stones and Aymeric Laporte are all very accomplished in their own right, but Ruben Dias and Eder Militao make the perfect duo to marshal the backline.

With Dias’ brilliant spatial awareness, strength and tackling ability he is undroppable in this team, just as he is in Pep Guardiola’s City setup. Militao, on the other hand, brings brilliant aerial ability, pace and youthful aggression to perfectly complement his CB partner.

On the right side, Kyle Walker slots in comfortably. Having established himself as one of the most solid fullbacks in the world ever since moving to Manchester City, his incredible speed and tirelessness round out a very balanced backline.

Midfielders

Kevin De Bruyne – Toni Kroos – Luka Modric

Modric and Kroos have been one of the most revered midfield partnerships of this generation. The Real Madrid duo can rightfully stake a claim as two of the best midfielders of all time.

Modric’s footwork and ludicrous creativity gives the Ballon d’Or winner a nailed-on spot in this combined XI.

Oozing class. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Although Casemiro is in with a shout of being in this side as well, ignoring a player as intelligent as Kroos who can manage the game with his technique and smart decision-making is very difficult. Not to mention, he is not afraid to work hard and get his hands dirty sometimes.

In the final midfield spot comes the mercurial Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian is arguably the best midfielder in the world at the moment and has consistently been in that discussion for the past few years.

His technical ability is not up for debate, but to go with it, he brings incredible energy to the team with a willingness to run hard and proactively make things happen.

De Bruyne is always scanning his surroundings and his low crosses or line-breaking through passes are sights to behold. Not to mention, of the midfielders mentioned so far, he has the sharpest eye for goals and the ability to get them.

Attack

Riyad Mahrez – Karim Benzema – Vinicius Jr

Two tricky wingers and a lethal centre-forward make the perfect recipe for an attacking trio.

Mahrez jumps to mind immediately as a goal-scoring right-winger with a delightful first touch. He is the obvious candidate for the right flank, with his flair and eye for goal. The Algerian has 22 goals across all competitions this season.

Vinicius Junior comes in on the left side after a tremendous season for the Brazilian. His stint at Real Madrid started off slow, and he was seen as a diamond in the rough, particularly due to his woes with finishing.

However, Vini has truly come into his own this season. His dazzling speed and quick feet are a nightmare to deal with for any defender.

To complement that, he seems to have resolved his confidence issues in front of goal, and has been providing assists for fun. His haul of 17 goals and 14 assists in all competitions is nothing short of spectacular.

And finally, we have Karim Benzema. At 34, he has been in spectacular form and is arguably the best player in the world at the moment. The Frenchman is joint second in the race for the European Golden Boot and is running away in the La Liga top scorer charts.

In a class of his own. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

His movement, finishing and creativity to boot, make him an incredibly dangerous striker with an air of inevitability every time he takes to the pitch. Any chance, no matter how small, on his right foot, left foot or head, can turn into a goal.

City’s own midfielder Ilkay Gundogan also said that Benzema could win the Ballon d’Or this year. In this kind of form, it is hard to argue.

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MU Shorts

Tchouameni, Camavinga start in a 4-3-3: How Real Madrid could line up against Mallorca

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid will be hoping to cut down the gap to league leaders Barcelona to two points when they face RCD Mallorca at Son Moix on Sunday afternoon.

Los Blancos enjoy a superior record against Javier Aguirre’s side, but have had missteps of late. Meanwhile, Mallorca have won three of their last four matches at home and will pose a stern test to Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

Things will be made even more complicated for the reigning Spanish champions as they will have to make do without club captain and ace goalscorer Karim Benzema. Eder Militao, who had been in top form recently, is also out with an injury, as are Ferland Mendy and Eden Hazard.

It will be an important match for the Merengues if they wish to keep up the pressure on their rivals Barcelona. Ahead of this encounter, Madrid Universal takes a look at how Ancelotti might set his team up on Sunday afternoon.

Starters

There is just no looking past Thibaut Courtois in goal for Real Madrid. The Belgian has been a consistent and key performer for the champions and will again be crucial if they are to return with three points from Mallorca.

Dani Carvajal made his return from injury in the midweek win against Valencia, coming on from the bench. While David Alaba is back and available, Ancelotti could avoid risking him against Mallorca so that he is fit for the FIFA Club World Cup next week.

As such Antonio Rudiger and Nacho Fernandez should form the centre-back pairing for Los Blancos, whereas Eduardo Camavinga should continue in the makeshift left-back role that he has essayed in the past couple of matches.

Back in action. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Moving into the middle of the park, Ancelotti will likely look to reintroduce Aurelien Tchouameni into the starting XI after the midfielder made his return from injury against Valencia.

The 23-year-old Frenchman will slot in as the No. 6 while in-form star Dani Ceballos and Luka Modric could occupy the remaining two spots in midfield. Toni Kroos, who picked up a knock in the previous match, will likely be protected for the Club World Cup.

Benzema’s absence means Rodrygo Goes becomes the obvious choice to line up as the No. 9 against Mallorca. Meanwhile, Vinicius Jr and Marco Asensio, who were the goalscorers for Real Madrid against Valencia, should continue occupying the flanks.

Vinicius · Rodrygo · Asensio
Ceballos · Tchouameni · Modric
Camavinga · Nacho · Rudiger · Carvajal
Courtois

Substitutes

Federico Valverde will be an option from the bench for Ancelotti to tweak the attack, given that there are no other natural forwards in the squad for tomorrow’s game, apart from the out-of-favour Mariano Diaz.

David Alaba will likely receive some minutes off the bench so that he gets some action under his belt heading into the FIFA Club World Cup. The same should hold for Toni Kroos, who has recovered from the knock he sustained against Valencia.

Jesus Vallejo or Alvaro Odriozola might get a few minutes in case Real Madrid are in the lead and Ancelotti is looking to shut up shop.

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