Real Madrid Starting XI Prediction vs. Manchester City for Champions League semifinal first leg

Real Madrid, Fede Valverde (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Fede Valverde (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Fede Valverde
Real Madrid, Fede Valverde (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images) /

LW Vinicius Jr.

Vinicius Jr. is the X-Factor for Real Madrid. So many times this season, Vini has created a goal from nothing in transition with his never-say-die attitude and his much-improved final ball, both as a scorer and assist-provider. And the assists have been of particular importance for the left winger lately, with his cross against Chelsea being the tie-winning move for Madrid.

Kyle Walker is not an easy matchup at all, and Manchester City will find ways to provide plenty of extra help against Vini, forcing the young forward to be at his very best. Every time he has been challenged in this way, though, Vini Jr. has risen to the occasion. Just ask PSG in that second leg comeback.

CF Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema’s back-to-back hat-tricks to lift Real Madrid will go down in Champions League history has two of the greatest individual performances ever. And in the second leg against Chelsea, it was the head of Benz that, once again, made the difference for the Merengues.

City have an elite center back duo and will certainly have a well-thought-out gameplan to stop Benz, but even the best plans eventually crumble at the feet of the master himself. Benzema is operating on another level in world football, and his Ballon d’Or march could very well include another historically great Champions League performance against the mighty Manchester City.

RW Fede Valverde

Who to pick on the right wing? That will be the main question for Carlo Ancelotti when it comes to setting his lineup this Tuesday, and, unlike the defensive midfield, it will not be based around fitness questions.

Due to their recent performances, Fede Valverde and Rodrygo Goes have shown that they are both equally deserving of starts. Fede has been the more consistent of the two, but Rodrygo has been the most brilliant lately. He was the Man of the Match in the comeback against Sevilla, changing the game upon his introduction at the half with a goal, an assist, and plenty of amazing creative work aside from those goal contributions. And then he was the best player on the pitch again in the following game, a rare start on the left wing at Osasuna.

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So why Fede over Rodrygo if Rodrygo has been so good lately? I think Ancelotti will be more cautious at the Etihad and want the more defensive option in Valverde, who started the last two Champions League matches successfully. Rodrygo can then be used as an impact sub to change the game, which has an added benefit if Real Madrid really need a goal.