CB Nacho Fernandez
David Alaba is expected to miss the second leg, having already missed the second half of the first leg after injury woes. In truth, the world-class center back was not fit enough to start that game and struggled, bungling one ball that led to Gabriel Jesus scoring for Manchester City.
At his best, Alaba has a case for being the best center back in the world. Those are big shoes to fill, though we did once see Nacho Fernandez fill similarly large shoes in the 2020/21 Champions League when Sergio Ramos – an all-time great at the position – was injured.
Nacho has been a liability this season, though, with his form several notches below what we saw from him in 2020/21. He did not inspire confidence against City in the second half, and he’s had more subpar matches than strong ones in central defense.
Thus, Nacho has to play a great game. His team needs him. Nacho bleeds for the club and is a true Madridista. These are the nights where he can remind fans what he means to the club and how he can elevate his performances.
CB Eder Militao
Lately, Eder Militao has been a major disappointment. Though the young center back is having a great season overall, Militao has been culpable on multiple goals this season, including a couple in the 4-3 defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad.
Like Nacho, Militao has been too aggressive lately, making positional errors and taking unnecessary risks, even underestimating the quality of his opponents one-on-one. Militao is still learning the finer details of the game, but these are the matches where the learning curve does not exist. Real Madrid need Militao to be at the level of world-class players already.
We know how good he is. He dropped a legitimate 10 out of 10 earlier this season against Real Sociedad at the Anoeta in a match important to the title race. Real Madrid need that version of Militao on Wednesday night. If he struggles again, they can kiss the final goodbye.