The Champions League semifinals start this Tuesday, when Manchester City welcome Real Madrid to Etihad Stadium for what promises to be an exciting game to start the European Cup Final Four. Tactics are big in these kinds of games, and these are the potential starting lineups we might see at Etihad Stadium.
Manchester City (4-2-3-1)
Sagna - Kompany - Mangala - Clichy
Fernandinho - Fernando
Navas - De Bruyne - Silva
Now that the plethora are injuries are a thing of the past, Manuel Pellegrini has a healthier squad to pick from and that makes it for an interesting prediction. He has four talented full-backs with very different qualities, but for a match against such an attacking force like Los Blancos, the Chilean might prefer his two most defensive players in Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy, who will be vital to stop the dangerous runs from Madrid's wingers and full-backs. In the center of the defense, Vincent Kompany is likely to start alongside Eliaquim Mangala to add power and height to the center-back duo, with Nicolás Otamendi dropping to the bench.
The defensive midfield pairing of Fernando and Fernadinho is likely to start ahead of Yaya Touré, who is doubtful to even be in uniform because of injury. The two are in good form and will be vital if City want to stop Real's midfielders and to control the central movements of the attacking trio. Ahead of them, Jesus Navas and David Silva will be huge on the wings to cause trouble to Madrid's defense, who can be shaky on the flanks.
In the middle, Kevin De Bruyne, in sensational form, has to have another virtuoso performance to create chances for Sergio Agüero. City have become a counter-attacking team over the last few months, and the Argentinean benefits from this system, and will use his speed against Madrid's central defenders.
Real Madrid (4-3-3)
Carvajal - Pepe - Ramos - Marcelo
Modric - Casemiro - Kroos
Bale - Ronaldo - Jesé
The biggest doubt on the starting lineup is Karim Benzema, unlikely to play with a knee injury. Cristiano Ronaldo won't be at 100% but his hamstring should hold up for 90 minutes. Other than these two, the rest of the team is set. Dani Carvajal is clearly better than Danilo and has been rested for the last two matches to be the starting right-back at Etihad. Pepe and Sergio Ramos will have to play a great defensive game to stop Agüero, and Marcelo will have a tough night trying to handle Jesus Navas' pace on the wing, and if he doesn't get any help from the forward players, this could be a problem for Madrid.
Casemiro will start once again, and he couldn't have a tougher assignment than Kevin De Bruyne, City's best playmaker. The Brazilian will likely chase the Belgian for ninety minutes, and if De Bruyne is smart with his movement, he could lose Casemiro and unbalance the Madrid defense, opening spaces to create chances for himself and his teammates. Luka Modric and Toni Kroos have to be at their best going forward and also at the back, and will be key to keep the rhythm since Madrid will likely be the team with more possession.
Up front, Gareth Bale and Ronaldo could play as a striker pairing thanks to Jesé's defensive capabilities, freeing the two superstars from any defensive duty. If that happens, they would be even more dangerous than usual, making their team the favorites to win in England even without their 'BBC' partner, Benzema.
Tuesday will be fascinating.