Real Madrid vs. Manchester City Combined XI for Champions League Semifinal

Real Madrid vs. Manchester City (Photo by Visionhaus)
Real Madrid vs. Manchester City (Photo by Visionhaus) /
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Real Madrid, Eder Militao
Real Madrid, Eder Militao (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images) /

LB Joao Cancelo

Real Madrid’s Ferland Mendy is a defensively rock solid full-back, but Manchester city’s Joao Cancelo is in a league of his own. He is simply one of the best full-backs out there. He’s an artist with the ball at his feet, who can beat defenders for fun, create dangerous chances with ease, and score occasional but beautiful goals.

The extra bit of quality he provides in the attack has enabled him to become a decisive player at Manchester City. Here’s an insane stat that proves how he’s an all-round player, despite being a full-back. As per FBRef, he’s in the 99th percentile for Progressive carries, Progressive passes, passes completed, through balls completed per 90, and in the 98th percentile for tackles attempted in the final third.

CB Ruben Dias

For the position of an LCB, my choice is Manchester City’s Ruben Dias, who has been a rock for Pep Guardiola at the back, ever since his move to the Premier League in 2020. He has become an undroppable player for City, thanks to his supreme consistency. Numbers might now show us the complete picture of his brilliance, but there is a sense of security at the back in his presence.

It was a tough call to pick him ahead of David Alaba, who’s been excellent in his first season at Real Madrid. He’s an intelligent player who can read the game extremely well, and is very comfortable with the ball at his feet. But Ruben Dias has been a better centre-back than him in the last two seasons, with his physique giving him an edge over others.

CB Eder Militao

Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte and John Stones are two decent centre-backs, but when it comes to selecting the best centre-back, there shouldn’t be any doubt about selecting Real Madrid’s Eder Militao. The Brazilian has made the RCB position his own and didn’t let Real Madrid feel the absence of Raphael Varane, who’s been a great servant to the club.

His positional awareness and tackling technique are brilliant, and his ability to make use of his body makes him a fantastic defender. There are a few games where you can point out his blatant errors, but he has been a trustworthy defender, dropping defensive masterclasses from time to time. In fact, his performance against Real Sociedad at Anoeta in December 2021 is one of the best defensive performances I’ve seen this season, if not the best. Even my colleague Kevin thinks so, as he rated Militao with a 10 out of 10 after that game.

RB Kyle Walker

The one thing I envy the most about teams like Manchester City and Liverpool is the quality of their full-backs. Full-backs play a prominent role in the modern game of football, and City’s management did a great job by recruiting full-backs like Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker, with the Englishman making it to our combined Xi as a right-back. Walker isn’t that typical pacy right-back who bombs down the right channel at every chance possible, anymore. He has a different role assigned to him by Guardiola, with the Spaniard mostly using Walker as an inverted full-back, who forms a back-three with the centre-backs and helps the team build the attack from the back, while also preventing danger at the back. As you can observe here, his stats like progressive carries and key passes aren’t that great, but his passing numbers and possession stats are at another level.

Honestly, I feel that a fit and healthy Dani Carvajal can be the best right-back in the world on his day. After all, he played a massive role during Real Madrid’s Champions League three-peat. But in the last year and a half, he has struggled to maintain his form and fitness, which is the reason why I didn’t consider him.