Mail Sport's combined Manchester City v Real Madrid XI

Record breaking Erling Haaland leads the line with Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema but there is no room for a five-time Champions League winner… but who else makes Mail Sport’s combined Manchester City v Real Madrid XI?

  • Man City face Real Madrid in the first-leg of the Champions League semi-final 
  • They are set to renew their rivalry after Madrid’s thrilling victory last season 
  • Mail Sport names our combined XI from the two star-studded squads 

Manchester City and Real Madrid renew their rivalry on Tuesday night with a mouth-watering semi-final tie in the Champions League.

Manchester City travel to the Spanish capital in red-hot form, winning 14 of their last 15 in all competitions, as they remain in pursuit of a historic treble.

Holders Real Madrid might be experiencing in-different form in La Liga, but are a formidable outfit in the Champions League, and will want a repeat result of last season’s semi-final victory to City, where they won the thrilling two-legged tie 6-5.

Both sides have had comfortable journeys to this stage, the Premier League Champions cruising past Bayern Munich in the quarter finals, whilst Real Madrid defeated 2021 winners Chelsea.

Ahead of the eagerly anticipated semi-final clash, Sportsmail has named our combined XI from the two star-studded squads – but who makes it into our line-up?

Manchester City dominates Mail Sport’s combined XI ahead of their Champions League clash

Real Madrid will be hoping for a repeat of last season when they face Man City in the semi-final


Ederson (Man City)

A tough decision to begin our combined team, given both teams’ defensive solidarity in the Champions League. Ederson gets the nod, however, conceding just three goals in eight Champions League matches this season, compared to Courtois’ six.

The Brazilian goalkeeper’s distribution has been hailed since his £35 million move from Benfica in 2017. He even provided an assist for Erling Haaland in City’s 3-1 victory over Brighton early into this season.

In March, Real Madrid boss, Carlo Ancelotti was linked with the vacant managerial role at Ederson’s national side, Brazil, with the City goalkeeper joking about his additional motivation to beat Madrid Ancelotti can ‘come [to Brazil] as quickly as possible’ – 

Ederson gets the nod over Thibaut Courtois having conceded less goals in the competition


John Stones (Man City)

The English defender has gone through a transformational season at Manchester City, adapting to his new hybrid centre-back midfielder role with ease.

The 28-year old’s passing accuracy of 93.2 per cent is up there with the very best in the Premier League, demonstrating his importance to Pep Guardiola’s reformed system this season, which Stones is at the very heart of.

The English centre back has drawn great praise from his club manager this season, labelling him ‘extraordinary’ following an important Premier League win in January.

Ruben Dias (Man City)

At the heart of our combined team defence also happens to be the heart of Man City’s defence, Ruben Dias.

The Portuguese defender has been an ever-present in City’s starting line-up recently, featuring in all but two games since early February (both games were FA cup)

The 25-year-old has been a rock for Pep’s side, helping the English champions concede 30 goals in 33 games, second only to Newcastle in the Premier League.

He edges out Manchester City teammate, Manuel Akanji, who has improved from a shaky start to life in the Premier League, following a move from Borussia Dortmund at the start of the season.

Ruben Dias (left) and John Stones (right) make the combined XI representing Man City

Eder Militao (Real Madrid)

The first entry from the Spanish side into our team is Eder Militao. He has seamlessly stepped into Sergio Ramos’ boots’ since the Madrid legend left in June 2021 after 21 years with the club.

Having picked up too many yellow cards before this stage, the Brazilian defender will miss the first-leg of the tie, leaving a big hole in the middle of Madrid’s defence.

It remains to be seen who will deputise in his absence. His replacement will need to impress though, with Militao keeping 3 clean sheets, and making 14 clearances in his last 3 Champions League appearances. 

Eder Militao makes the combined XI though he will miss the first-leg due to a suspension


Rodri (Man City)

The linchpin of Manchester City’s midfield sits at the base of our combined midfield three, having established himself as one of the best holding midfielders in world football in recent years.

The Spaniard is one of Guardiola’s most influential and trusted players, having played more minutes than any other member of the Manchester City squad. He has started in every Premier League player since October, and all but 4 games in all competitions since then.

A key player in the crunch semi-final tie, Rodri is selected ahead of a host of talented midfielders including team mate Ilkay Gundogan and highly regarded 23-year-old Aurelien Tchouameni.

Rodri (left) has been one of Pep Guardiola’s most influential and trusted players this season

Luka Modric (Real Madrid)

The next man into our midfield is a Champions League veteran. Luka Modric has won 22 major trophies whilst at the Spanish club, including 5 Champions League titles.

Modric continues to contribute to Real Madrid, even into his 11th season with the Spanish Club. He has a passing accuracy of 90.6 per cent in the Champions League, and has 10 goals and assists in 36 La Liga and Champions League appearances this season.

Now aged 37, Modric’s experience and know-how in this competition means he certainly gets a place in our combined team despite fierce competition from City’s versatile attacking midfielder Bernardo Silva and teammate Federico Valverde, who started the campaign in scintillating form.

Luka Modric has shown no signs of slowing down at the age of 37 and is still a key player for Madrid


Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)

Kevin De Bruyne walks into any team in world football, so this is a straightforward decision to include him in our combined team.

The Belgian is a complete midfielder; his vision and passing in particular unrivalled in word football. The Belgian’s ability to find a pass most wouldn’t even consider attempting means he tops the Premier League assists charts with 16 this season.

He has a further 5 assists in 7 Champions league games too so he walks into our combined team, even ahead of the experienced and one of the greatest midfielders of this generation in Toni Kroos.

Kevin De Bruyne walks into any team in world football so he is a straightforward inclusion


Vinicius Jnr (Real Madrid)

The young forward is one of the most promising and electric talents in world football, who gets fans on the edge of their seats every time he plays.

The 22-year-old already has a Champions League winner’s medal in his collection and scored a sensational solo goal against Man City last season in the first leg of the semi-final.

Fellow superstar-in-waiting Phil Foden provides the closest competition, but his inconsistency, paired with Vinicius Jnr’s ability to create magical Champions League moments means he takes the right winger position.  

Vinicius Jnr scored the winning goal for Real Madrid against Liverpool in last season’s final

Jack Grealish (Man City)

The form of Jack Grealish this season, and especially since the World Cup means he deserves a place in our combined team.

Having struggled during his first season in Manchester, Grealish’s form is reflective what a £100m price tag would demand. Since the World Cup, Grealish has 11 goals and assists in the Premier League. His total for the season, 12, shows his impressive form since the mid-season break.

Grealish’s close dribbling, ability to suck in and then beat defenders suits Pep Guardiola’s system of wide wingers perfectly, and has quickly become an influential cog in the City machine.

Jack Grealish has looked closer to a £100m player in an improved second season at Man City


Erling Haaland (Man City)

Erling Haaland might be the first name on any team sheet in world football at the moment. His goal scoring form since his £51m move from Borussia Dortmund last summer has turned the Premier League record book on its head.

Haaland has scored 35 Premier League goals and a further 12 goals in 8 Champions League games this season. Even with 5 league games to go, the Norwegian became the leading Premier League goal scorer in a single campaign, surpassing the 34 goals set by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole.

This is the latest of many records Haaland has broken, also becoming the first ever player to score 20 goals by January – this even with a six-week break for the World Cup. A no-brainer in our combined team.

Erling Haaland might be the first name on any team sheet given his exceptional form this year

Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

Completing Sportsmail’s combined team is Karim Benzema. The French striker is known for his exceptional work rate as well as being ruthless in front of goal.

Another goal machine, Benzema has won 5 Champions League titles with Madrid, won the 2022 Ballon d’Or and recently surpassed the 350 goal mark at Real Madrid. This cements his position as one of the best forwards in his generation.

Another goal scorer who continues to break records even at 35 years old, Benzema’s selection was never up for debate in the front line of our combined team.

Karim Benzema is paired up alongside Erling Haaland in what would be a deadly partnership

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