The difficulty in writing this post is proportional to the difficult Champions League group Real Madrid finds itself in this season. The Group D of this year’s UCL consists of Spanish Champions Real Madrid, Dutch Champions Ajax, English Champions Manchester City and also German Champions Borussia Dortmund. So this playing XI gives a collective idea of what Real Madrid are up against in UEFA Champions League 2012-13 group stage.
Joe Hart: Joe Hart can be considered one of the best decision Roverto Manicini took at Etihad stadium since becoming City’ manager in 2009; the decision of choosing the 23-year-old Hart over the experienced and still handy Shay Given. In some way, Joe Hart is one star in City’ locker-room for whom the owners didn’t have to go on a million dollars shopping spree. Today Joe Hart is the undisputed #1 for England and Manchester City.
Aleksandar Kolarov: Even with the presence of Frenchmen Gael Clichy, the combative Serbian has had a memorable stay at Eastland. Kolarov is ferocious when attacking forward and a brick wall at defense. What differentiates him with Clichy is him being an amazing direct-set-piece taker and he is also a better defender than Clichy.
Vincent Kompany: The charismatic captain of Manchester City was the source of power and energy for the whole squad that brought City their first English Premier League title in ‘forever’ time. Part of the golden Belgian generation, Kompany has turned into a perfect mould for a defender who gives nothing to the strikers in defense but creates hell when in opposition box (remember his headed goal against United).
Mats Hummels: With Serbian defender Neven Subotic, Hummels has set up one of the most powerful defensive partnership in whole of Europe. At only 23, Hummels was instrumental for Germany in this year’s Euros like he has been for the two time defending Bundesliga champion Dortmund.
Łukasz Piszczek: The relatively unknown full-back from Poland was already a Dortmund favourite but during Euro 2012 he also announced his name on the world stage. A versatile player who can also play in the midfield, Piszczek has a knack of providing assists on a regular basis and is equally good at cutting in the box to score few for himself.
Yaya Touré: The younger Touré joined his elder brother Kolo at Easland a year later in 2010. But today it is Yaya who has made his place in Mancini’ starting XI his own. Yaya learnt the traits of being a defensive midfielder under Guardiola at Barcelona but it was in City where he coined a new role for himself as ‘an attacking CDM’ (which in many ways is self-contradictory). Yaya can break the plays, make the plays and score goals with his quick-feet runs into the box and is, arguably, the best box-to-box midfielder in the World.
Sven Bender: He belongs to that new league of defensive-midfielders who have no issues in attacking the opposition and are perfect to set up counter-attacks. One half of the Bender twins, Dortmund had to reject numerous bids from the Bavarian giants Bayern Munich for Sven. It would be interesting to see how he pulls himself to the new level when he faces the likes of Aguero, Higuain, Cristiano, Benzema in UEFA Champions League.
Christian Eriksen: He is the pint-sized great Dane of Ajax and is only 20. Touted as the next big gift to Europe from Ajax, this diminutive sized midfielder can light-up any team with his mesmerizing skills and the talent with which he can beat any defender with ease. Calm and composed on the ball, it puts him in the traditional No. 10 role. He scores few but sets up many and his small stature helps him to achieve those Messi-esque off the ball runs.
David Silva: If in a midfield oriented team like Spain, which has players like Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Mata, Fabregas, Jesus Navas, Santi Cazorla, a midfielder is able to find a place in the team, then that player is worth a standing ovation. Hence, stand one and all and give Silva that applause. Manchester City might have bought so many high profile players since Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan became the owner, but it has been Silva’s signing from Valencia that has given the Citizens a new life. He can play as an all in all conventional-winger or in the hole behind the striker (which he plays at City).
Jakub Błaszczykowski: Don’t worry about his Szczesny kind of surname; you can remember him by his jersey name ‘Kuba’. Or you can remember him as the guy who would cover every inch of grass for full 90 minutes. Or you can remember him as Polish captain with 57 senior caps and is only 26-year-old. Kuba is known as an old-school midfielder, no fancy moves or crossovers, he is a midfielder who attacks, defends, assists and scores. Kuba is rated very high by Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp and by the media world over.
Sergio Agüero: One of the most prolific goal scorers in world football and one of the prized assets of Roberto Mancini. He joined the new-age-City-era last season at a mammoth fees of £39 million and hasn’t stop scoring since then. Last season, Agüero scored 30 goals in 41 appearances for City and also helped setting up nine goals for his fellow Citizens. Like his father-in-law Diego Maradona he has been a fan favourite wherever he has been, be it Atletico Madrid or Manchester City. His pace, power and finishing ability can put any defender in the world in trouble. And his goal in injury time won City the League Title.
Siem De Jong
Yes, another playing XI can be made out of the subs.
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Published with permission from realmadridinfo.