Harry Kane, Kevin De Bruyne and Ruben Dias walk straight into our Man City and Spurs combined XI, while Hugo Lloris gets the nod in goal… but who else features ahead of today’s Carabao Cup final?
- Manchester City and Tottenham meet in the Carabao Cup final this afternoon
- Pep Guardiola’s side have won competition for last three years and are favourites
- Ryan Mason’s Spurs are desperate to end their 13-year trophy drought today
- Sportsmail picks a combined XI from both City and Spurs ahead of showdown
Manchester City and Tottenham meet this afternoon as they battle it out for the Carabao Cup trophy.
Pep Guardiola’s side have won the competition in each of the last three years and are understandably the favourites to make it four in a row.
Tottenham, now managed by Ryan Mason following Jose Mourinho’s sacking last week, are desperate to end their 13-year trophy drought.
Here, Sportsmail picks a combined XI of players from both City and Tottenham ahead of the highly-anticipated showdown at Wembley.
Pep Guardiola’s (L) Man City take on Ryan Mason’s (R) Tottenham in the Carabao Cup final
The obvious choice would be Manchester City No 1 Ederson, however Pep Guardiola appears to be rigid in allowing his back-up goalkeeper to play in the domestic cup competitions.
Zack Steffen has played every minute in the Carabao Cup this season, conceding just two goals en route to the final. City’s No 2 also featured from the off in last weekend’s FA Cup semi-final defeat by Chelsea.
The 26-year-old made some fine saves but showed his inexperience when he was caught out for Hakim Ziyech’s winner.
Tottenham No 1 and captain Hugo Lloris gets nod in Sportsmail’s City vs Spurs combined XI
Blues pacy striker Timo Werner exposed City’s high line, leaving Steffen in two minds about whether to smother the striker or retreat.
The shot-stopper was, consequently, caught in no man’s land and made up Werner’s mind for him. With Ziyech in acres of space in the centre of the goal, the Germany international squared the ball to his team-mate, leaving him with the easy task of tapping into an empty net.
Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has had an inconsistent season as Spurs have struggled to maintain form but the World Cup winner gets the nod.
The 34-year-old does, at times, lose concentration but he has the ability to pull off some spectacular saves. The Frenchman produced an exceptional double save in Tottenham’s 2-1 victory over Southampton in midweek.
City reserve goalkeeper Zack Steffen has played every minute in the Carabao Cup this season
It’s hard to predict who Guardiola will select at right back as he’s rotated between Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker over the course of the season.
However, like Steffen, Cancelo played the full 90 minutes in the defeat at Wembley last week. He also saw out the full game at the quarter-final and semi-final stage of the League Cup.
Therefore the versatile full back is likely to be deployed from the start. The Portuguese is excellent on the ball, fast and creates so much for City going forward.
Used to possession Cancelo has often been an extra man in midfield as he’s been utilised in a hybrid role by Guardiola.
Serge Aurier has played the last three league games for Spurs and although an outlet going forward, the 28-year-old can be caught out defensively and suffer lapses in concentration.
The versatile Joao Cancelo (R) is likely to start for City and is more reliable than Serge Aurier
One of the players of the season and the best buys of the last summer transfer window.
The £64m signing has oozed class and composure in the heart of City’s defence and alongside Kevin De Bruyne is one of the first names on the teamsheet.
City have lacked a defensive leader ever since the departure of Vincent Kompany but Dias has filled that void.
The Portuguese centre half has been pivotal to City having the best defensive record by far in the division. He’s strong, good with his feet and has a great ability to read the game to make the right decision.
No Tottenham centre halves even come close to taking Dias’ place. Toby Alderweireld is a reliable defender and has been restored to the starting XI in recent weeks but Spurs’ defence have looked vulnerable all season.
City centre back Ruben Dias has been one of the standout performers of the 2020-21 season
In Mason’s first match in charge on Wednesday he opted for a central defensive pairing of Alderweireld and Eric Dier.
Dier was transformed into a centre back from a centre midfielder by Jose Mourinho, who was relieved of his duties on Monday, but the England international is yet to fully convince in that position.
City’s John Stones would have been the man to partner Dias but he is banned from playing in the Carabao Cup final following his reckless tackle on Aston Villa’s Jacob Ramsey.
Despite seeing red and making an error prior to that Stones has been rejuvenated this season with his form, leaving England manager Gareth Southgate with no choice but to bring him back in from the cold and into his plans ahead of Euro 2020.
Instead the ever-dependable Aymeric Laporte makes the cut. The Frenchman has seen less game time this season due to Stones’ impressive renaissance but has proven during his time at City that he is an assured defender.
Aymeric Laporte is set to fill in for the suspended John Stones and is dependable at the back
The former Real Madrid left back has made his mark on this Tottenham side following his arrival for £30m last September.
The 24-year-old beats Manchester City duo Benjamin Mendy and Oleksandr Zinchenko after being one of Spurs’ standout performers this campaign.
Sergio Reguilon has provided a great attacking outlet on the left flank and is often heavily involved in the build-up to Spurs’ goals.
Sergio Reguilon (R) has shown plenty of positive signs in his debut season in English football
In 30 appearances in all competitions this season Reguilon has supplied six assists. He won the penalty which gave Mason a dream start in midweek.
Meanwhile City pair Mendy and Zinchenko have been frequently rotated by Guardiola during the 2020-21 campaign.
Reguilon has ousted Ben Davies as first-choice left back and has proved to be an astute piece of business by Mourinho.
Another shrewd bit of business was the acquisition of Southampton holding midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
His £20m arrival from the south coast was somewhat of a surprise but he’s been one of the few positives in Spurs’ difficult season.
The 25-year-old has brought bite and aggression to the Tottenham midfield but also stability in front of the back four.
Hojbjerg was the player who won most possession in the Premier League last season at the Saints and his ability to screen and his tireless doggedness has improved Spurs in the middle of the park.
City’s Rodri – Fernandinho’s long-term replacement – is a player that goes under the radar in Guardiola’s side and only narrowly misses out to Hojbjerg due to the impact the Dane has had on Spurs.
Spurs midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (L) edges out City’s Rodri in our starting line-up
Kevin De Bruyne
City’s talisman is in a race against time to be fit for the Carabao Cup final after hobbling off in the second half of their FA Cup semi-final defeat by Chelsea last weekend.
Kevin De Bruyne and City did fear the worst when he went down holding his ankle but it appears the injury is not as serious as first thought.
The Belgian playmaker has been nothing short of sensational again this season – he has notched eight goals and provided 16 assists in 35 matches.
No other midfielder in the top flight comes close to replacing De Bruyne in a starting line-up. His creativity, vision and quality is a joy to behold.
The midfield maestro recently signed a new four-year contract at the Etihad which was a huge boost to City but also for fans of the Premier League. What a player.
City talisman Kevin De Bruyne (R) has been nothing short of sensational again this season
In De Bruyne’s absence earlier in the season Ilkay Gundogan stepped up and was in a rich vein of form.
In 12 games across December and February he bagged an impressive 11 goals and supplied two assists from midfield.
In the past the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder has not always got the credit he deserves in a team full of stars but he has earned plenty of plaudits this season, and rightly so.
Gundogan makes Sportsmail’s team ahead of Spurs’ Tanguy Ndombele. The 24-year-old has shown plenty of signs why Spurs splashed £65m to become their club-record signing in the summer of 2019.
The Frenchman is a skilful and powerful midfielder and gives Spurs that much-need guile from deeper positions, however he has been hindered by fitness issues this season.
Ilkay Gundogan makes up the midfield three as he’s impressed in the heart of City’s midfield
There are no superlatives left to describe City and England’s young star. The 20-year-old has seized the chance given to him by his manager this campaign.
Phil Foden has scored 14 goals and managed nine assists in 43 games this campaign and replaced Raheem Sterling in City’s attack.
He was on target in both legs of City’s Champions League quarter-final showdown with Borussia Dortmund this month and scored the first and played a role in the second in City’s 2-1 win at Aston Villa on Wednesday.
Phil Foden (2nd L) has been a hard man to stop throughout campaign as he’s seized his chance
Former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp hailed Foden as ‘the real deal’ and Guardiola lavished praise on the midfielder.
‘He is growing, this guy is growing. He is making steps forward every time,’ the City boss said. ‘His influence in our game is massive right now. Scored a goal, provoked the two yellow cards, so aggressive without the ball. He is becoming a serious player.’
Utilised on the left of a front three by Guardiola, Foden lines up on the right wing to form a lethal triumvirate here.
Just like City, Spurs have been left sweating over the fitness of their star man. Harry Kane cut a frustrated figure as he headed down the tunnel after picking up a knock to his ankle in their draw with Everton last week.
Sportsmail exclusively revealed on Thursday that the England striker had completed an outdoor training session on his own in a major boost to Mason ahead of today’s showdown. But he did not take part in training on Friday.
It’s no secret just how crucial Kane is to Spurs. He has notched a staggering 31 goals and provided 16 assists in 43 matches this season.
Spurs have been left sweating on the fitness of star man Harry Kane but he could well feature
Spurs are desperate to pick up some silverware and how Kane would love to fire his boyhood club to glory.
Kane has been linked with a move away from north London in order to get his hands on a trophy with City a possible destination. Win at Wembley and the decision over his future might be that little bit easier.
City urgently need a world-class centre forward with Sergio Aguero departing once his deal expires in June. The Argentina international has barely played this season with Guardiola using Gabriel Jesus as his striker or opting for Sterling, De Bruyne or Ferran Torres as false nines while he’s been sidelined.
City forward Sergio Aguero has struggled all season and is leaving the club this summer
Yes, City have a plethora of attacking options at their disposal but Son Heung-min can’t be left out.
Sterling is struggling for form and Guardiola also flits between Riyad Mahrez, Torres and Bernardo Silva.
Just like with Kane Spurs hugely miss Son when he does not play. The Tottenham duo have formed a strong partnership, with an almost telepathic relationship.
Son Heung-min (R) finishes off a lethal triumvirate as he beats City’s star attackers to the spot
The South Korea star has 20 goals and 16 assists to his name this season and is set to play a pivotal role in the final.
With Kane sidelined in midweek Son delivered, scoring the match-winning penalty in stoppage time. Winger Gareth Bale also made an impact of his own with a fine goal.
The Welshman, on loan from Real Madrid, has the ability to create something out of nothing, but Son edges out his team-mate due to his consistent high-level performances.
Sportsmail’s combined City and Tottenham starting XI ahead of the teams’ showdown
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