Kevin De Bruyne
Putting aside all biases, Kevin De Bruyne is the best midfielder in the Premier League. It’s not even close. He is equipped to single-handedly control the tempo, and break defensive lines with a single pass, while consequently contributing enough defensively with sustained counter-pressing. He falls into one of those rare brackets of players that can make or break games of this stature. Lucky for Real Madrid, they’ve got players with a similar aptitude.
His fundamentality in this City squad cannot be overlooked, the FA Cup semi-finals vs Liverpool is simply a testament to this statement. For the first time this season, Manchester City got outplayed across the board, particularly in the middle of the park. I wonder why.
De Bruyne picked up a knock against Atletico Madrid, and what looked like an ankle injury doesn’t seem like it will force him out of the tie. In addition, he was a part of the City squad for the Cup semi-final, so him being out of the first leg against Real Madrid is a pipe dream.
In just 24 appearances, he accounts for 11 goals and three assists in the Premier League this season and creates 5.24 shot-creating actions per 90. Even though these stats are phenomenal, one cannot comprehend how treacherous he is unless they watch him week in, week out.
This tie will be a battle of the midfield, and keeping De Bruyne in check is how you win it.