Mix ‘n’ Match: Hart and Alonso miss out as Man City join Real Madrid

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Manchester City must beat Real Madrid if they are to have any chance of staying alive in the Champions League this season and the good news is that if the two squads were merged together, five of their players would make our combo team.

It is rare that Manchester City are 2/1 to win at home, so this could prove a likeable price, especially given their long unbeaten run at the Etihad domestically.

In fact, looking at our joint team, we have accidentally named two defenders from each club, one central midfield player and two attackers, the only place where the Spanish champions gain the edge is in goal.

David James has previously stated that Joe Hart is the best goalkeeper in Europe and is slightly superior to Iker Casillas in the kicking department and filling his area.

However, we feel that Casillas remains better in terms of concentration, which is of more value in a team where realistically the goalkeeper will have little to do.

Hart has proved against Dortmund that when he is busy, he is at his best, but when he is out of the game for longer periods, the England goalkeeper is susceptible.

In defence, Pablo Zabaleta has looked one of the most improved players in the Premier League this season and has proved to be one of Man City’s biggest threats from an attacking perspective, creeping into dangerous positions unnoticed.

This extra attacking threat gives him the edge over the more defensive and slightly one-dimensional Alvaro Arbeloa, especially in a team where the wingers will regularly drift inside and the reliance is on the full-backs to provide width.

For the same reason Marcelo is preferred to Gael Clichy on the other flank.

In midfield, Yaya Toure and Sami Khedira are the best partnership to follow the German model of two interchangeable central midfield players capable of carrying out attacking and defensive duties to a high level.

Xabi Alonso may be a better passer than both, but does not offer the same defensive protection.

Mesut Ozil has to play in the attacking central position given that he assisted 49 goals in his first two seasons with Real Madrid, more than both Xavi and Andres Iniesta in the same period.

David Silva wins the nod over Samir Nasri and Angel Di Maria in the right attacking berth, while Cristiano Ronaldo is a no brainer out on the left.

Some may prefer him in the central striker role, but with Sergio Aguero the best pure finisher in the modern game, he has to start and can profit most from the creativity of Silva and Ronaldo.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.