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A Critical Evaluation of Carlo Ancelotti’s Starting lineup choices for Real Madrid vs Manchester City

"Real Madrid - Peñarol" by Jan S0L0 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Genuine Madrid will confront Manchester City in the second leg of the Heroes Association semi-last on Wednesday night, with a spot in the last in question. The primary leg finished in a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Arena, with Kevin de Bruyne offsetting Vinicius Jr’s strike. Both teams have a chance to advance to the final, where they will face either AC Milan or Inter Milan. The tie is well-balanced.

Before the crucial game, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti faces a dilemma: When facing City, which lineup should he select? He can choose from three options: 1) a similar line-up as the first leg; 2) Playing defense together with Eder Militao and Antonio Rudiger, David Alaba will play left back, Eduardo Camavinga will play midfield, Federico Valverde will play more on the right wing, and Rodrygo will sit on the bench; 3) Militao will start in place of Rudiger, which is the same lineup as the first leg. The benefits and drawbacks of each option will be discussed in this article.

Use the same lineup as the first leg.

Keeping the same lineup that he used in the first leg is Ancelotti’s first option. Rudiger and Alaba will continue to play center back, Camavinga will play left back, Valverde will play with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in the midfield, Rodrygo will play with Benzema and Vinicius Jr. in the attack, and Valverde will coach the team.

The fundamental benefit of this choice is coherence and commonality among players. This line-up has played together a few times this season and has shown great science and understanding. It also provides a balance between attack and defense, with Valverde adding energy and work rate in the middle, Camavinga providing defensive cover, and Rodrygo providing pace and creativity on the right wing.

There are certain disadvantages to this choice, though. The most obvious is that either Antonio Rudiger or Eder Militao will be benched. Especially if Pep Guardiola decides to place Riyad Mahrez on that wing, Camavinga, who was a standout in the first leg, may be put through more defensive pressure.

The absence of a defense aerial presence is another option’s weakness. Alaba is a good defender but not very tall, and Real Madrid may have trouble handling City’s set pieces or crosses with Tchouameni, Militao, or Rudiger on the bench.

Finally, Dani Carvajal may receive less defensive support from Jack Grealish if Rodrygo plays on the right side of the field instead of Valverde. Even though Rodrygo can somewhat mitigate this by being asked to play deeper:

Starting Militao and Rudiger together in defense, relocating Alaba to left back, Camavinga to midfield, Valverde to the right flank, and Rodrygo to the bench.

Ancelotti also has the option of making lineup adjustments and starting Rudiger and Militao together on defense. Alaba will play left back, Camavinga will play midfield, Valverde will play right wing, Rodrygo will play on the bench, and Alaba will play left back.

The main advantage of this option is that it gives Madrid more height and solidity in defense. Militao and Rudiger are both tall and powerful defenders who are better able to handle City’s physicality and aerial threat. They are likewise quick and lithe enough to manage City’s speed and development.

This option also lets Alaba stay on the field, which is important because of his experience, leadership, and ability to move the ball. Alaba is a skilled and versatile player who can play a variety of roles. He can assist in both offense and defense. In addition, he gets along well with Vinicius Jr., which adds balance and dynamism to Madrid’s midfield. Camavinga is a talented midfielder who can enhance Madrid’s engine room with more creativity and flair. He can likewise assist Kroos and Modric with their cautious obligations and press City’s midfielders. Valverde, then again, can play as a conservative and give more cautious inclusion than Rodrygo.

There are certain disadvantages to this choice, though. The most obvious is that it alters the chemistry and system of Madrid. The players in this lineup haven’t played together much, so it might take some time for them to get used to each other and get along. Madrid’s rhythm and flow could also be disrupted because they have been using the same lineup for several games. It could likewise confound the players or cause them to lose certainty.

One more shortcoming of this choice is that it avoids Rodrygo concerning the beginning arrangement. Throughout the first leg, Rodrygo posed a multitude of challenges for Manchester City. He could feel disheartened or baffled by being sidelined, however, he could likewise be a valuable choice to welcome on later in the game if Madrid needs greater imagination or speed.

Between the initial two choices, it’s an extreme call. Kiyan Sobhani, our chief editor, says that benching Rodrygo could help Pep Guardiola:

Militao will start in place of Rudiger in the same lineup as the first leg.

The third option for Ancelotti is to start Militao over Rudiger in defense and make only one lineup change. Alaba and Militao will play as center backs, Camavinga will play as left back, Valverde will play as a midfielder, and Rodrygo will play as a right winger in the second leg.

The fact that this option preserves Madrid’s defense while maintaining its system and chemistry is its primary advantage. This group has performed well and played well together in previous games. It likewise keeps the harmony among assault and guard, with Rodrygo giving speed and imagination on the conservative, Valverde adding energy and work rate in the center, and Camavinga offering protective cover and backing on the left.

Of course, downgrading your defensive line is probably the biggest risk associated with this decision. Given that Militao is regarded as one of the world’s best defenders, that might appear to be a dramatic claim. However, it must be emphasized that Rudiger marked Erling Haaland superbly in the first leg. Can Militao step in and perform similarly?


Each choice offers advantages and disadvantages that might impact Madrid’s performance and chances of winning the match. Each possibility has been examined in this article, and according to reports from Spain, option 2 is the most likely. The defense of Madrid is strengthened and given greater height and firmness in Option 2, which may be necessary to stave off an attacking City team in their stadium. Additionally, it modifies Madrid’s system and chemistry while maintaining the core of the squad. Option 2 may give Madrid the advantage over City and enable them to win the Champions League for the 15th consecutive time.

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