Real Madrid vs. Manchester City: 5 players who will decide the first leg

Real Madrid, Toni Kroos (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Toni Kroos (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Dani Carvajal
Real Madrid, Dani Carvajal (Photo by Mateo Villalba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid will travel to the Etihad Stadium for Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal showdown against Manchester City, who are widely recognized as the best and most consistent team in European football. After Pep Guardiola’s overthinking cost them last season’s title, Carlo Ancelotti had better believe the ex-Barcelona manager will have the perfect gameplan for him…unless, you know, he spends so much time thinking he…ah, you get it.

In any case, though there are plenty of narratives surrounding these two legendary managers, the players are the ones who will actually decide the game.

Let’s take a look at five players on both Real Madrid and Manchester City who could have the biggest say on the final scoreline at the Etihad.

Real Madrid RB Dani Carvajal

We begin with one of Real Madrid’s most mercurial players, Dani Carvajal. At times this season, he has looked like the Carvajal of old, returning from injury to produce high-quality performances at the right back position. But in other matches, he has been Real’s biggest liability, getting toasted by the likes of Ferran Torres and Kylian Mbappe.

Even going back to a couple of years ago when Real Madrid last faced Manchester City, Carvajal’s lack of speed, overly-aggressiveness, and proneness to mistakes were exposed by super-sub Raheem Sterling. Los Blancos were knocked out of the Champions League Round of 16 by the Cityzens in 2019/20.

Carvajal will be going up against Sterling again. If he isn’t at his best, the England international could pop up with the decisive goal contributing action at the Spaniard’s expense.