Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has praised his side’s consistency in reaching the latter stages of the Champions League ahead of their semi-final with Real Madrid.
The Citizens are playing in the last four of the competition for the third successive year. In 2020/21, City advanced to the final before losing to Chelsea. Last season brought disappointment, too – Real Madrid eliminated the Premier League side in a dramatic semi-final tie.
Now, Pep Guardiola and his squad have the chance to banish some of those previous Champions League demons. Although they have not yet reached the pinnacle, the Spanish coach called his side “healthy” for their ability to regularly reach the business end of the UCL.
“When I arrived seven years ago, we wanted to win the Champions League, definitely,” said Guardiola in a pre-match press conference. “And the year after, and the year after. So, we definitely want it.
“But the same last season, not much changed because of what happened, or the final we lost against Chelsea two years ago. Last season it was the end of the world and yet here we are again.
“There are clubs in Europe who invest just to win the Champions League, and after that, they don’t win the Champions League and leagues. They go down and down.
“Being stable is the most important thing,” he stated. “Madrid, for example, every season they are there. They are the best – of course, they win it – but at being there [too]. That for me means the club is stable and healthy.”
Of course, Real and City are familiar foes in recent years. However, Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti is wary of the Citizens’ new threat.
Ancelotti respects Erling Haaland and Man City ahead of UCL clash
Los Blancos come into this Champions League semi-final with the confidence that they beat Man City last season. But City did not have Erling Haaland then.
Pep Guardiola has been able to call upon Haaland throughout this Champions League campaign – and he has more than lived up to expectations. The Norwegian has 12 goals in Europe in 2022/23, which puts him at the top of the UCL goal charts.
Carlo Ancelotti gave Haaland his props during his pre-match media duties.
“Obviously he’s a very dangerous player, he’s showing impressive quality,” said the Italian, via The Athletic. “He’s scoring goals, he’s an obvious danger. Last year they had a dangerous striker, who was Gabriel Jesus. Now it’s Haaland, who has different characteristics.
“He has an important height and De Bruyne behind him, who can give him a long ball.”
Despite praising City’s focal point, Ancelotti pointed out that Guardiola’s side are a threat as a whole.
“To only talk about Haaland is not to talk about a very solid team that creates problems. They look unstoppable, but we have a chance to have a close, competitive game that we can win.
“I think what I can say is that they are a more complete team compared to last year. We don’t gameplan to stop one player, it’s to stop a team that is very dangerous.”
The first leg of the Champions League semi-final between Real Madrid and Man City kicks off at 8pm UK time on Tuesday 9 May.
Featured image credit: Getty