In a tale of veterans vs. new boys on the block, the competition for places in a combined XI between Real Madrid and Manchester City is rather staggering. And it’s even more staggering when you consider where the two clubs were a little over 10 years ago – while Real Madrid were still bossing Europe, Manchester City were in transition thanks to new ownership, but still had a side consisting of Richard Dunne, Stephen Ireland and Benjani.
Since the takeover, Manchester City have grown into a top side, and have remained an ever-present in the Champions League – despite still not winning it – since qualifying for it for the first time in the 2010/11 season.
Goalkeepers & Defenders
Ederson (GK) – Since arriving to City in summer 2017, Ederson has quickly established himself at the top level. Arguably one of, if not the best, goalkeeper in the Premier League, the 26-year-old Brazilian is known for his commanding style and excellent reflexes, but also his astounding ability with the ball at his feet. He’s conceded just two goals in the Champions League so far this season, compared to the seven conceded by Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois.
Dani Carvajal (RB) – Carvajal has served as Madrid’s starting right-back for several years now, and has been a key part of teams that has seen them win four Champions Leagues since 2013. In a time where world class full-backs are slightly more difficult to come by in football, Carvajal has proved irreplaceable for Los Blancos, and has amassed over 250 appearances for the club.
Sergio Ramos (CB) – Captain of both Real Madrid and the Spanish national team, it’s virtually impossible to argue against the inclusion of Sergio Ramos. His undoubted leadership qualities, combined with his ability and desire to win puts him in this team without question. To say Sergio Ramos is merely a good centre back however, simply doesn’t do him justice. He’s managed over 100 career goals from his position, and has popped up with some vital ones which have been instrumental to Madrid’s Champions League success. No brainer.
Aymeric Laporte (CB) – While it’s difficult to sympathise with Manchester City due to the sheer ability and firepower they possess in their squad, their failure to replace Vincent Kompany has proved costly. Aymeric Laporte has proved to be a shining star in a dark time for City’s defensive disarray, but even injuries to him this season have limited his opportunities. Now back to full fitness, City will hope that they can rely on him to inspire their team to greater success in the latter stages of the Champions League.
Marcelo (LB) – Similarly to Ramos and Carvajal, Marcelo has been integral to Real Madrid’s success over the last few years. Having racked up just over 500 appearances for Madrid, the 31-year-old Brazilian was also key to Madrid’s European success in the last few years, scoring in their 3-1 victory in the final versus Atletico Madrid in 2014.
Casemiro (CDM) – Perhaps a name that goes somewhat unnoticed when in a team like Real Madrid, Casemiro has proved in recent years that he is easily one of the world’s best midfielders. His work-rate, combined with his aggressive tackling and intelligence, Casemiro is able to operate box-to-box, and is a vital asset to Madrid’s side at this point. He became a regular under manager Zinedine Zidane in his first spell, and has since established himself as a mainstay. Another key player in their recent European success, the 28-year-old put Madrid back in front against Juventus in the 2017 Champions League final with a long-range effort, which they eventually won 4-1.
Toni Kroos (CM) – It’s fair to say that Real Madrid have two of the best midfielders in the world at their disposal. Toni Kroos made a name for himself at Bayern Munich and missed out on Champions League glory due to injury in their successful 2012/13 season, but moved to Madrid in 2014. Since then, he has been an ever-present in the side, and tasted plenty of Champions League success which he has directly contributed to. His passing ability and creativity on the ball means he is an incredible asset to Real, and his trophy cabinet doesn’t look that bad either; just the four Champions Leagues and a World Cup.
Kevin De Bruyne (CM) – Another one known for his outrageous passing ability, Kevin De Bruyne has established himself as one of the best midfielders in football. For Manchester City, he has registered 15+ assists every season in the Premier League alone in three of the last four seasons. At 28 years old however, De Bruyne is entering his peak and is yet to win a Champions League. With Manchester City in trouble with UEFA, could we potentially see him move on?
Bernardo Silva (RW) – Since signing for Manchester City from Monaco in 2017, Bernardo Silva has excelled in a forward position. He quickly established himself as an integral part of the team in City’s 2017/18 season when they achieved a record 100 points in the Premier League, and has since become a favourite at the club due to his ability as a playmaker.
Karim Benzema (ST) – Sergio Aguero narrowly misses out in this one, but through no fault of his own. Karim Benzema has proved now for a number of years that he is exceptional at the top level. The Frenchman has bagged a frightening 240 goals in 498 games for Real Madrid in all competitions, which is evidence of his limitless qualities. A proficient finisher, with incredible strength and range to his game, Benzema has been key to Real Madrid’s success on both domestic and European fronts.
Raheem Sterling (LW) – Since joining Manchester City, Raheem Sterling has developed into one of the most exciting forwards in world football. Now 25, his game has matured and he has proved vital to the Blues’ recent successes, particularly in the Premier League. He has scored 10+ goals in the Premier League in each of the last three seasons for City, and will look to carry such form into the Champions League knockout rounds this season.