A better defense
Whereas Manchester City’s defense has been surprisingly weak in 2019-2020, Real Madrid boast arguably the best defense in European football. It’s difficult to compare across leagues, so Liverpool vs. Real is a worthy debate. But after allowing 25 goals this season to lead La Liga, including the two in the game they didn’t care about against Leganes, Los Blancos certainly put themselves in the conversation.
Real won’t have Sergio Ramos in the starting XI due to a suspension, but former FC Porto star Eder Militao has shown multiple times, most recently against Athletic Bilbao and Deportivo Alaves, that he has what it takes to be a star player. He is not a weak link and is better, if we are playing a comparison game, than a few of the center backs who have gotten minutes for City.
The other starters are major stars and arguably the best in the world at their respective positions, purely defensively speaking. Ferland Mendy is a wall who has allowd 0.2 dribbles per game, per WhoScored.com, and Raphael Varane has been nearly as impressive with 0.3 dribbles per game allowed. At right back, Dani Carvajal has improved greatly after disappointing in the first leg against City.
Finally, the goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois. What more can be said about the Zamora Trophy winner, who was one of the best players in the first match against City? If anyone can be the difference in a decisive moment, then it is Courtois. He is the ultimate advantage within Real’s defensive advantage.