After Atletico Madrid’s epic showdown with Bayern Munich last night, resulting in them making it to a second Champions League final in two years, we now turn to Madrid where Man City and Real Madrid battle it out for the other spot.
A 0-0 draw in the first leg leaves this one wide open for either side to snatch, whilst City will be looking for an important away goal, Real will look to use their home advantage. Two star-studded lines ups will take to the stage tonight, but what players stand out for either side? What players will make the difference in a Champions League semi final?
We’ve profiled four players from each side which make up the spine of the starting XI, from the top scores right the way down to the men in between the sticks.
Two world class forwards occupy this section for Man City and Real Madrid. Although Ronaldo is a class above with three Ballon d’Or’s to his name and over 500 career goals, Aguero is still a potent forward in world football, regarded as one of the best in his position due to his impressive goals per game ratio. The Argentine sits on 28 goals this season, that’s 116 minutes per goal, whilst his counterpart Ronaldo has 19 more at a more impressive rate of 84 minutes per goal. On their day these two are impossible to play against, but when it matters, who will shine for their club?
Kevin De Bruyne and Toni Kroos keep these two European powerhouses ticking, running the midfield and setting up goals with ease. A summer signing from Wolfsburg, De Bruyne has been an instant hit for Man City, netting fifteen times including a crucial goal against PSG in the previous round as well as fourteen assists this season. His German opponent Kroos has had an impressive season also, becoming a rock in the Real Madrid midfield as well as providing twelve assists, to take his side to the brink of a league and European cup double. De Bruyne means a lot more to City than Kroos does to Madrid and so the pressure will be on the Belgian to deliver in this one.
Rocks at the back
Captains of the clubs with over 200 international appearances between them, Sergio Ramos and Vincent Kompany keep City and Madrid effective from the back. Time and time again Kompany has come to the rescue of City, putting in crunching tackles to go with man of the match performances, keeping City’s opponents out. Ramos has done exactly the same for Madrid, marshalling his back four to keep thirteen clean sheets in the league and nine in the Champions League. A solid performance from either of these players will be key to progression here.
Joe Hart and Keylor Navas provide our final two key men. A team is nothing without a world class shot-stopper between the sticks acting as a last line of defence, as quite so often an incredible save is as key to a win as a goal at the other end is. Joe Hart has firmly established himself as City’s and England’s number one keeper, executing world class saves when they matter to register fifteen clean sheets in the Premier League, leaving him joint top. Real Madrid’s Costa Rican keeper Navas has seamlessly taken over from long standing hero Iker Casillas in goal, proving he deserves his place in Zidane’s star studded XI with excellent positioning and one-on-ones. If no goals are scored after 120 minutes, this one could go to penalties where these two men have the potential to be heroes for their sides.