Real Madrid vs Man City: Eden Hazard out for hosts, Raheem Sterling to return at Bernabeu as Zinedine Zidane

Manchester City take on Real Madrid in one of the ties of the round in the Champions League knockout stages.

Pep Guardiola’s side travel to the 13-time European champions for the first leg of the last 16 clash on Wednesday, which is LIVE on talkSPORT.

Raheem Sterling is in contention to start against Real Madrid

Getty Images – Getty

Raheem Sterling is in contention to start against Real Madrid

City’s main focus this season is now on Euro glory, with the Premier League champions certain to lose their title to Liverpool, who sit a mammoth 22 points clear at the top.

It could be their last chance for Champions League success for some time, with the club having been handed two-year ban – starting from next season – from European competition for Financial Fair Play breaches.

But City face an almighty challenge to get past Real Madrid.

They have only made it as far as the quarter-finals since Guardiola took charge in 2016, and in stark contrast, Real have won the Champions League trophy three times in the past four seasons.

It will be the first time Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane have faced off as managers so how can the City boss outsmart his former playing rival?

talkSPORT.com looks at how both clubs could line up at the Bernabeu….

Real Madrid

After a difficult debut campaign in Madrid, Thibaut Courtois has proven his doubters wrong this season.

No other team has conceded fewer league goals than Real Madrid (17) this season and that has largely been down to the form of Courtois.

A back four of Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Ferland Mendy is likely to be deployed in front of the Belgium goalkeeper.

Thibaut Courtois has rescued his Real Madrid career

AFP or licensors

Thibaut Courtois has rescued his Real Madrid career

Mendy has been preferred to long-serving left-back Marcelo at times this term, and Zidane could opt for the Frenchman’s pace this time around.

A midfield trio of Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos will look to feed their side’s potent forwards against a shaky City defence.

Gareth Bale missed Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Levante through illness, but is in the squad to face City.

He could line up on the right wing, with Vinicius Junior on the opposite flank after Eden Hazard fractured his ankle on the weekend.

Eden Hazard is facing around two months of the sidelines

Getty Images

Eden Hazard is facing around two months of the sidelines

The Belgium captain has had rotten luck with injuries since joining Real Madrid from Chelsea last summer, and is set for another spell on the sidelines.

Meanwhile, Karim Benzema is expected to lead the line as he looks to add to his 18 goals this season.

Real Madrid will be without Eden Hazard vs Man City

buildlineup.com

Real Madrid will be without Eden Hazard vs Man City

Man City

Ederson is set to continue in goal with his deputy Claudio Bravo, who is the only Man City player to win the Champions League, on the bench.

City have been boosted by the recent return of Aymeric Laporte, who suffered a serious knee injury in August.

It is no surprise that Laporte’s return has coincided with the Citizens keeping back-to-back Premier League clean sheets for the first time this season.

City beat West Ham 2-0 last Wednesday, before getting the better of third-placed Leicester with a 1-0 victory on Saturday.

Aymeric Laporte makes a huge difference to Man City

Getty

Aymeric Laporte makes a huge difference to Man City

Laporte is likely to partner Fernandinho, who has impressed at centre-half since moving back from midfield, while Kyle Walker and Oleksandr Zinchenko could operate the full-back berths.

Benjamin Mendy has featured in City’s past two games, but never seems to be trusted in big games by Guardiola.

Rodri is expected to play in a defensive midfield role, with Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva in front of him.

Silva was an unused substitute at the King Power Stadium and his experience could be pivotal in Madrid.

Riyad Mahrez has been a consistent performer for Man City this season

AFP or licensors

Riyad Mahrez has been a consistent performer for Man City this season

Riyad Mahrez, who has featured in big matches this season after being a bit-part player last year, could line up on the right wing, with Guardiola opting for pace and leaving Bernardo Silva on the bench.

Raheem Sterling has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since pulling up against Tottenham earlier this month, but has returned to first-team training.

He is in contention to start against Real Madrid, and it is likely to be a risk Guardiola takes.

Mahrez and Sterling will be looking to provide chances for Sergio Aguero to finish.

Is this how Man City should line up vs Real Madrid?

buildlineup.com

Is this how Man City should line up vs Real Madrid?

What the managers say

Approaching the contest as if it might be City’s last opportunity in the competition is not something that has entered Guardiola’s mind.

The City boss said: “No way! These players will have a lot of chances to win the Champions League.

“This season is a big opportunity. I know we play the king of this competition and we know the challenge in front of us but, at the same time, it’s not the last one.

“When you die, after there are no more chances. But in life, if you are in this business and you want to train and play, you never know what is going to happen. There is no special motivation.”

Opposite number Zidane, meanwhile, is looking forward to coming up against Guardiola, who he rates as the best manager in the game.

He said: “He has shown that over the years, at Barca, Bayern (Munich) and now City. That’s my opinion. Some people can think other coaches are better but for me, he is the best.

“But it is Madrid against City, not Zidane against Guardiola. It will be a great game. We always want to play games like this and we will do our best to come away with a good result.”

LISTEN TO LIVE AND EXCLUSIVE RADIO COMMENTARY OF REAL MADRID VS MANCHESTER CITY TONIGHT, KICK OFF 8PM