Europe’s top four are set to take the stage over the next couple of weeks. Both first-leg matches will be taking place in England as decided by the controversial quarterfinals and semifinals draw. In MD-11 Preview, we took a look at how each of the club reached the semifinals. Today we will take a look at how each club’s season is shaping up.
Real Madrid is now just one point away from securing the La Liga title after a surprising Rayo Valecano victory over Barcelona at the Camp Nou this week. Carlo Ancelotti did not shy from resting his starting XI as we saw the likes of Lucas Vasques, Ceballos, Camavinga and Marco Asensio starting in their recent win over Osasuna on the road. Real Madrid may welcome Manchester City in the return leg at the Santiago Bernabeu as La Liga Champions if they can defeat Espanyol this weekend.
Manchester City are in good shape regarding injuries in midfield and attack while Guardiola will be thankful for the return of Ruben Dias in the last couple of EPL matches. There is definitely more pressure and hardship on Pep’s shoulders than on Ancelotti’s in this upcoming tie. Manchester City are still 5 games away from concluding EPL and Liverpool are breathing down their necks with a mere one point difference. Kyle Walker’s successful return to UCL after three match ban may be thwarted by a recent ankle injury. The biggest worry for Pep however is the suspension of Joao Cancelo which means he must rely on a central defender to play on the opposite side of Zinchenko if Walker does not pass fit.
Villarreal are occupying 7th place in La Liga at the moment with 5 games to go and 3 points separating them from a spot in the Europa Conference League, however; Villarreal finished last season outside Europe’s qualifying ranks and qualified for UCL this season by lifting the Europa League trophy in 2021. Unai Emery adopts a fluid counter attacking style that could see off the pressure of Liverpool’s gegenpress style.
Jurgen Klopp had the best opponents to practice against in derby rivals Everton considering they play a more direct counter attacking style. Liverpool won the EFL cup over Chelsea this season and will be playing in the FA Cup final against the same team. They continue to challenge Manchester City for the title and are favoued by the odds to reach the UCL finals. This season is shaping up nicely so far for Liverpool and they should at least end up with double if not treble trophies.
On Monday, Pep Guardiola and Raheem Sterling took to the press in preparation for the match while Carlo Ancelotti was joined by Valverde after arriving in Manchester to answer the media’s questions:
If you missed it, it is worth going back to read NMA’s UCL MD-11 Preview. My fellow author and UCL expert Dhivakhar has also given us his MD-11 player picks, and Sraxan shared his plan for tackling the tricky upcoming MD-11.
This is just a reminder that fantasy managers are allowed five free transfers ahead of MD-11. Also fantasy managers can now include six players in their squad from each club.
Crazy Monday - Injury/suspension updates
Here are the latest injury / suspension updates:
Liverpool host Villarreal with only Firmino doubtful due to a foot injury.
The Yellow Submarines will be playing without Alberto Moreno and Gerard Moreno in the first leg.
The Citizens are without Joao Cancelo due to suspension. John stones and Kyle Walker are doubtful for the back line.
Eden Hazard, Jovic and Mariano make up the injury list for the Spanish royal club. Eder Militao returns from suspension and David Alaba is doubtful but has made the squad list.
How’s your team faring? We have three free transfers this time — do you have any questions about how you should use them? Do you have a captain candidate for both game-days? Which matches do you plan/wish to watch as a fan? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!