It’s that time of the year. The trees are back in bloom, small ducklings and goslings are taking their first steps into the world.
And Real Madrid are in the business end of the Champions League.
For the tenth time in the last 12 years Real Madrid are preparing for a Champions League semi-final clash.
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This time around they will play English champions Manchester City in what should be a fascinating clash.
Whilst City are locked in a tense battle for the Premier League title with Liverpool, Real are cantering to the Spanish championship and only need to avoid defeat at the weekend against Espanyol to secure the title.
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Real had the weekend off too, they haven’t played since the mid-week clash with Osasuna last Wednesday, which they won 3-1.
City are on a brutal run of midweek matches, already at seven matches for the month of April with two still to come. They have won their last two matches (against Brighton and Watford) after being knocked out of the FA Cup by Liverpool.
Ahead of the game we got in touch with Agustin Galan from Eurosport Spain to see what the situation is with Real Madrid and any team news.
Are Real in their best form of the season?
“We are reaching the Real Madrid zone,” says Galan.
“Their 35th La Liga title is just a matter of time and they can focus exclusively in the Champions League, which is good for a team specialized in the European competition.
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“There are some concerns regarding the fitness of the group, because everyone saw how they ended their 2nd leg game against Chelsea. If Benzema, Modric and Courtois are fit, they will be an actual menace to Man City’s road to the final.”
Why did Benzema play against Osasuna?
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti made a lot of changes to his team, resting the likes of Dani Carvajal, Toni Kroos, Vinicius Jr, Casemiro and Luka Modric.
Notably Karim Benzema, arguably Madrid’s best player this season, wsan’t rested and he started, having two penalties saved by Osasuna goalkeeper Sergio Herrera.
There was a real risk of injury, more on that later, so why did Benzema play?
Karim Benzema will be on the hunt for more goals this evening
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“Mariano was injured and Jovic was not 100 % ready to play in a high demanding place like Pamplona,” explains Galan.
“Ancelotti didn’t want to rotate the full squad and prioritised to rest the midfielders.”
So who are the big injury concerns? Will anyone miss the game?
So as we mentioned, there was real risk against Osasuna, one of the feistier teams in La Liga, and there was concern when David Alaba had to go off injured. Ferland Mendy and Casemiro are also struggling.
“Alaba and Casemiro will have to pass a test when the team arrives to Manchester,” says Galan.
David Alaba (Real Madrid)
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“Mendy is the only one who seems to be ready for the game.
“If Alaba doesn’t play, Nacho could be his replacement, as he can adjust to every position in the defensive line. Camavinga has been Casemiro’s replacement, but he was quite nervous against Seville and Osasuna, so that could lead Ancelotti to choose another player (maybe Valverde).”
So who will play on the right wing?
The last real question is who will play on the right side of the attack, with Asensio scoring against Osasuna and Rodrygo in fine form recently.
“Rodrygo has better stats in Champions League games.
“He’s developed himself as a specialist in this tournament, so I’d say the Brazilian is in the pole position to play in the starting XI.”
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