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Ortega replaces Ederson, Erling Haaland and De Bruyne drop out – Predicted XI: Manchester City vs Chelsea (FA Cup Semi-Final)



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Manchester City once again travel to Wembley Stadium for an FA Cup Semi-final, as they take on Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea on Saturday evening.

Despite the exciting possibility of reaching a second successive FA Cup final, spirits may not be as high as the surface following midweek disappointment sustained in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.

Following a dramatic 3-3 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu the week prior, Pep Guardiola’s treble winners had to defend their turf on Wednesday, as they welcomed Real Madrid to the Etihad Stadium in the second-leg of their last-eight tie.

An electric atmosphere was not matched by the performance on the pitch, as 14-time winners of the competition Real Madrid set their stalls out and defended vigorously to hold the blues to a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes.

For the second time this season, the blues fell short in a penalty shoot-out, with misses from Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic sealing their fate and granting the away side a way through to the semi-final where Bayern Munich await Los Blancos.

The loss was not the only setback for the blues however, with Pep Guardiola subsequently confirming that both Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne asked to be substituted during the match due to respective fitness concerns.

Pep Guardiola stated during his pre-match press conference ahead of the weekend’s contest that “we’ll see” regarding the fitness of Haaland, before going on to confirm that De Bruyne is “okay” and in contention to start the match.

Manchester City must use the heartbreak of the week as motivation on Saturday as they bid to be the first side in the 2024 Emirates FA Cup final. With that being said, some rotation may be in order, and here is the line-up we expect to start the match against Chelsea!

Predicted XI

Stefan Ortega Moreno filled the void left by Ederson last month expertly, while the Brazilian recovered from a thigh injury, and we expect the German to return and keep his status as Manchester City’s cup goalkeeper.

Kyle Walker returned from injury and into the starting line-up on Wednesday, but we very much doubt it will be consecutive appearances for the Englishman. We expect Rico Lewis to step in.

John Stones made a late cameo to replace Manuel Akanji in extra-time against Real Madrid during the week, and we think he will partner Ruben Dias in the centre of City’s defence this time around.

Josko Gvardiol has seen a lot of action recently, scoring two outstanding goals in consecutive Manchester City matches against Real Madrid and Luton Town, but we think Nathan Ake may start this one in place of the Croatian.

Mateo Kovacic missed a crucial penalty but should be certainly in line to start for Manchester City in this one, giving some much-needed rest to Rodri at the base of midfield ahead of a continued hectic run of matches in the Premier League.

Portuguese midfield star Bernardo Silva must keep his head up following heartbreak from the penalty spot in midweek and we expect him to do so, starting once again for Pep Guardiola at the weekend, whilst partnering Matheus Nunes in front of the aforementioned Kovacic.

Jeremy Doku undoubtedly changed the game upon arrival on the pitch at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night, and we think he will start this one, albeit on the right of the front three as opposed to the left.

Erling Haaland complained of muscular pain according to Pep Guardiola. We suspect no risks will be taken in this one, with the perfectly capable Julian Alvarez starting up top in his absence.

Given the relentless schedule not getting any easier in the coming weeks, we think the likes of Phil Foden and Jack Grealish will be rested for this one, with Oscar Bobb instead coming in off the left to complete the line-up.

Predicted XI: Ortega Moreno; Lewis, Stones, Dias, Ake; Kovacic, Bernardo, Nunes; Doku, Alvarez, Bobb.

Substitutes: Ederson, Walker, Akanji, Gvardiol, Gomez, Rodri, De Bruyne, Foden, Grealish.