Manchester City has the opportunity to secure their second appearance in the Champions League final, but they face the formidable challenge of overcoming European powerhouses Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.
In their previous encounter at the Bernabeu, City and Real delivered an intense 1-1 draw, setting the stage for an enthralling showdown this week. City remains optimistic that playing on their home turf will give them the necessary edge to emerge victorious.
Guardiola will have a nearly complete squad at his disposal, as only Nathan Ake remains unavailable due to his absence in the last three matches due to injury. Unfortunately, Ake did not participate in Tuesday's training session, making it highly unlikely for him to be included in the second leg. As a result, Manu Akanji is expected to be the preferred choice once again for the left-back position.
Guardiola had indicated that City might require a more proactive approach compared to their performance at the Bernabeu. However, this preference could be attributed to both their style of play and the composition of their team.
The manager's primary dilemmas revolve around the inclusion of Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez. Mahrez brings a significant game presence and exceptional dribbling skills on the right flank, whereas Foden possesses unmatched explosiveness when he's in top form. These considerations become the pivotal factors for the manager to ponder.
While Foden appears to be the more enticing choice, I would still lean towards reverting to the XI that performed admirably in the first leg at the Bernabeu. This would mean keeping Foden, Riyad Mahrez, and Julian Alvarez as viable options on the bench. Bernardo Silva, although perhaps the most vulnerable, contributes immensely to the team, making it extremely challenging to exclude him.
In defense, Kyle Walker's performance against Vinicius Jr in the initial match justifies his retention, and Manu Akanji has proved to be a capable substitute for the injured Nathan Ake. It is imperative that John Stones and Ruben Dias partner up at the back.
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