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Manchester City vs Real Madrid, 2016 Champions League: Team News, Preview

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Barcelona fans are sad this week. There will be no Champions League semifinal for the Catalan giants to play after a painful exit two weeks ago. That doesn't mean the European Cup is no longer watchable. Even the Blaugrana will be very interested in the two Final Four matchups. One of them is very interesting for one single reason: rooting for Real Madrid to lose.

Barça's biggest rivals enter the pitch on Tuesday night to begin their semifinal tie with Manchester City, which gives Los Blancos the clear status as favorites to advance to the Milan Final in 33 days. Since taking over the Whites a few months ago, Zinedine Zidane has done a great job in leading a resurgence from the Spanish capital giants, who are still alive in the Champions League and just one point behind Barcelona and Atlético Madrid in the La Liga title race.

Zidane and his men can turn what looked like a disaster season into a miracle one, an incredible redemption story that ends with two major titles. Or, all the work done up until this point can end in two games over seven days. Although they are not even close to being favorites, the Citizens have all the tools to pull off a shocking upset.

What will happen? We will find out starting this Tuesday.



Manuel Pellegrini had to deal with injuries to the most important players of his squad all season, but he arrives at Etihad Stadium with a very deep group to play with. The only two players unable to feature on Tuesday are Samir Narsi, who wasn't registered for the Champions League, and Yaya Touré, the only key absence because of a muscle problem.

Even without Touré, the Chilean manager will pick a very strong, talented, dangerous lineup. In goal, Joe Hart is not the best goalkeeper in the world, but he is known to raise his level in the biggest of matches. In front of him, Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy are likely to start as full-backs because of their defensive capabilities, with returning captain Vincent Kompany and another Frenchman, Eliaquim Mangala, closing the back four.

The pivot duo is easy to choose: Fernando and Fernandinho are the only true defensive midfielders on the squad, and with Touré out, they are the best options to stop Madrid's creative playmakers. In front of them, Jesus Navas, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva have the speed, the intelligence and the ability to break down the Blancos defensive game plan, and De Bruyne especially could have a special night considering the incredible form he's enjoying. And then, the big (small) man up front: Sergio Agüero, who has seven goals in his last seven appearances, needs to have the match of his life to score against Madrid's defense and secure a vital first leg win for his team.

City are not a better team than Madrid, but they are far from pushovers. Pellegrini is not a tactical mastermind, but he has figured out a way to create a counter-attacking system that works to perfection against more talented, dominant side. If his team is able to do that again, then we could see a Sky Blue night in Manchester.


Only two names matter in Real Madrid's team news: Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. Both superstar strikers are injured and far from full fitness to play on Tuesday, but Zidane has said they will be on the pitch. The amount of minutes they play and whether or not their injuries will get worse during the match will have a big impact on the game's outcome. And if the two cannot be at their physical best and Gareth Bale is well contained by City's defense, we could be in for a very different football match.


Man City: WDWWWD

Real Madrid: WWWWWL


Man City (4-2-3-1): Hart; Sagna, Kompany, Mangala, Clichy; Fernandinho, Fernando; Navas, De Bruyne, Silva; Agüero

Real Madrid (4-3-3): Navas; Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Bale, Ronaldo, Jesé


My heart says City, but my mind (AND I REALLY HATE MY MIND RIGHT NOW) says another thing: 3-2 Madrid.

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