MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 26: Pep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City shakes hands with Zinedine Zidane, Manager of Real Madrid prior to the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at Bernabeu on February 26, 2020 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Newly crowned La Liga champions Real Madrid are expected to face a stern test when they take on Manchester City in their next match in the UEFA Champions League. The Citizens won the first leg of the encounter by 2-1, which was played at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Zinedine Zidane’s side are yet to taste defeat since the restart of the La Liga season and have gone onto win their 34th La Liga title, dethroning arch-rivals Barcelona. However, it is expected to be a different ball game for them altogether when they take on Pep Guardiola’s side in the Champions League in their own backyard.

Team News

Zidane has a fully fit team as all the injured players have recovered ahead of this crucial clash, except for Mariano Diaz, who has been tested positive for Coronavirus and will miss the encounter. This will certainly be a relief for the Frenchman as he will eye a comeback against the former Premier League champions, who have lost their title to Liverpool a few weeks ago. However, the absence of captain Sergio Ramos, who will miss the clash due to suspension, might pose a problem for Zidane as far as the defence is concerned.

Defence

The Zamora trophy-winning goalkeeper for the 2019/20 season, Thibaut Courtois, will start in the goal for Los Blancos and will surely look to keep a clean sheet on the night.

Dani Carvajal and Marcelo are set to start on either side of the backline, i.e., as the right-back and left-back respectively. In the absence of Ramos, Eder Militao will shoulder the defensive responsibilities alongside Raphael Varane at the heart of the defence.

Real Madrid Player Ratings Vs Athletic Bilbao - Ramos celebrates his goal
Real Madrid’s Spanish defender Sergio Ramos celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Athletic Club Bilbao and Real Madrid at the San Mames stadium in Bilbao on July 5, 2020. (Photo by Ander GILLENEA / AFP)

Midfield

Zidane is expected to start with the tested trio of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in the central midfield. All the three players have been in stellar form since the restart and Zidane should take no risk as far as the Manchester City fixture is concerned.

Attack

Karim Benzema has hit the ground running since the restart as well and has finished the season as the second highest scorer in La Liga after Lionel Messi. He will surely lead the line for the Galacticos against Manchester City. Luka Jovic, who has recovered from COVID-19, is expected to start on the bench.

Eden Hazard’s time with the reigning Spanish champions has been plagued with injuries. However, Zidane is expected to start with him on the left-wing against Manchester City. Marco Asensio, who has shown brilliant form since his return to action after missing a chunk of the season due to injury, is expected to start on the right-wing. Welsh superstar Gareth Bale is once again expected to start on the bench alongside youngsters Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior.

Predicted 4-3-3 Real Madrid Lineup

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Editor in Chief of The 4th Official. A man in his thirties who worries about the nuances of the financial aspects of football and how it will impact the game in the long term.