Manchester City will relish the “incredible test” of facing Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals as Pep Guardiola reminded his players they require two “exceptional” performances to reach the final.
After knocking Madrid out of the Champions League in the 2010-11 semi-finals as Barcelona manager and in the Last-16 match of 2019-20 against the City, Guardiola could become the first coach to knock Los Blancos out of the tournament three times.
Manchester City also remains undefeated in their last three Champions League games against Real Madrid (winning one, drawing twice) before the crucial first leg on Tuesday at the Etihad Stadium.
However, while City are still awaiting their first European title after getting into last season’s clash with Chelsea, Madrid aims to clinch the 14th European title this season, but Guardiola says his side will enjoy a “very good test” to face. and Spanish champions nominated.
“If we had to compete with their history, we would not have had the opportunity – they are better,” he said. “Their history speaks for itself. We have a desire to compete with them. For us playing with them is an amazing test and we want to try it. We have to suffer, fight, try our best.” it is possible.
“It would be the same if we face Bayern or Barcelona. They are a team many times in this position [final stages]. In the last ten years, we have probably never been, and now we are, which is a good thing.
“History is there, we can’t change it, but tomorrow we will play 11 against 11, one ball going, and the players will decide. Yes, we will play against players who have been in this area many times, even more.
“We can imagine or plan what will happen but the 11-point game is against 11. The players will make a difference, I don’t think Carlo [Ancelotti] or I will win this semi-final.”
This will be the seventh meeting between City and Real Madrid in the European Championships, with each of the last six coming to the Champions League from 2012 to 13. After failing to win the first four (two draws, two defeats), the Premier League champions have won both legs in the last 16 against 2019-20.
Guardiola, however, said City’s recent encounter with Madrid would not be in vain, highlighting the “strong” nature of the game and warned that City needed two “special” games to improve.
However, the 51-year-old also said that competing against Madrid in the four finals was “honorable” and commended his team for their performance so far, telling them they enjoyed the season.
“When we faced Real Madrid, it was tough, two games were tied. We came out of the quarter-finals some seasons when it was tight again,” added Guardiola. “I’ve always felt, with Barcelona, with Bayern Munich, and here, how wonderful it is to be in the final with the best teams in the world.
“Now we have to try to be ourselves. We will need two different games to reach the finals, and I hope we can. We need not say how much we respect Real Madrid and how good it is. It is an honor.
“We want to reach the finals and win the finals, but I will never underestimate what we have done and the fact that we are here.
“Two times in a row to the semi-finals is very good. Many teams are not here, good. One day we will not be there because it is very expensive, and you have to be very clear. So tell the newspaper. Players to enjoy this time, I do not know what will happen, you never know your position. ”
Guardiola has faced Ancelotti six times in the past, winning four and losing twice. However, all four of his cars came when Ancelotti was at Everton, with Italy winning their two Champions League matches, both in the 2013-14 semi-finals (Real Madrid won 5-). 0 defeats Bayern Munich).