The big injury news ahead of tomorrow’s fixture is that Yaya Toure is unavailable after suffering a thigh injury in the dying minutes of the Stoke game. Personally, I think it’s a bit of a blessing in disguise. Not because I think Yaya would’ve been completely useless tomorrow night, because I do think he could have played an important role. But because I think Manuel would’ve gone from him for the start. I’ve still got the sense that Pellegrini stumbled across a formula that’s worked for him in the Champions League – in Fernando and Fernandinho. Pellegrini has turned to Toure again and again during his time as City’s manager, so I for one, am quite pleased that that decision has been taken out of the manager’s hands.
Back to the injury news, though. Pellegrini confirmed in his press conference that Toure is City’s only injury worry, with Samir Nasri the only other absentee because of his ineligibility. As for Real Madrid, the big three have all travelled and are expected to start.
Zidane: "The idea is that Cristiano and Benzema will play tomorrow."
— City Watch (@City_Watch) April 25, 2016
Tomorrow’s team pretty much picks itself, in all honesty. Pellegrini only really has two big decisions to make: who partners Vincent Kompany, and who plays on the right wing? In response to the first question, I think you could make a strong case for both Otamendi and Mangala. Otamendi is experienced in La Liga and has done very well against Ronaldo and co. before, whilst Mangala has been quietly excellent in recent weeks, and is starting to look like a composed top-class defender. Personally, I think the decision to start Mangala at Newcastle with Kompany was telling – for me, that was Pellegrini playing his preferred centre half with Vincent for ninety minutes. Mangala would be my choice too – he’s really starting to mature.
The other big call, is whether to play Jesus Navas or Raheem Sterling on the right? Navas like Mangala, has been really good for the last 6 weeks or so, providing an excellent outlet and going-through his defensive work with diligence. But Sterling does arguably offer a greater threat, and has been excellent in the Champions League this season. It’s a difficult decision, and a nice one to have to make in all honesty. Pellegrini’s non-selection against Stoke could suggest that he’s being held-back for Real Madrid. But I think it’s probably more likely that Pellegrini will stick to what he knows and play the trusty Navas.
(Oh, and I really wouldn’t be surprised to see Bony ahead of Kelechi on the bench, even in the light of his brilliant performance at the weekend).
Bearing all that in mind, here’s the team I think Pellegrini will go with:
What do you think City’s team will be? Use our Squad Selector to put together your ideal starting XI!
Note: This Squad Selector is updated weekly, and thus only contains players who are available for this fixture. Check out our full Squad Selector for an extended version.