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Guardiola springs another Champions League surprise against Madrid

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Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola gestures during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first-leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on February 26, 2020. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

Pep Guardiola fielded another surprise line-up in the Champions League on Wednesday by leaving Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Fernandinho on the bench for Manchester City’s last 16 first leg against Real Madrid.

David Silva was also among the City substitutes at the Santiago Bernabeu, along with Gareth Bale and Toni Kroos, who were notable omissions from Madrid’s team.

Gabriel Jesus started upfront for City in place of Aguero while Nicolas Otamendi came in instead of Fernandinho in defence. Guardiola said on Tuesday that Sterling was “fit and ready” but the forward was left out.

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Kroos has been one of Madrid’s most consistent performers this season but Luka Modric was preferred in midfield, next to the more defensive duo of Casemiro and Fede Valverde.

Bale has not been a regular in recent weeks and was on the bench again as Zinedine Zidane instead plumped for the pace of Vinicius Junior in the attack.

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Starting line-ups for the Champions League last 16, first leg between Real Madrid and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday (2000 GMT):

Real Madrid (4-4-2)
Thibaut Courtois; Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Ferland Mendy; Luka Modric, Fede Valverde, Casemiro, Isco; Vinicius Junior, Karim Benzema

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Coach: Zinedine Zidane (FRA)

Manchester City (4-3-3)

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Ederson; Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte, Nicolas Otamendi, Benjamin Mendy; Kevin De Bruyne, Rodrigo, Ilkay Gundogan; Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva

Coach: Pep Guardiola (ESP)

Referee: Daniele Orsato (ITA)

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