Manchester — Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says his team, who face Real Madrid in their Champions League semifinal first leg on Tuesday, need to put aside the different European pedigrees of the two clubs and draw on their collective strength.
Real have won Europe’s top trophy a record 13 times while City remain in search of their first Champions League title after losing in the final to Chelsea last year.
“If we have to compete with their history, we don’t have a chance. It speaks for itself,” said the former Barcelona coach when reminded of the contrasting records of the two clubs.
“We have the desire to compete against them. For us, playing against them is an incredible test and we want to try it. Try to do as best as possible.”
Guardiola also talked down the significance of his role and that of Real manager Carlo Ancelotti in the game, saying that games in the Champions League are won by the decision-making of players on the field.
“History is there, we can’t change it, but it’s 11 against 11 and one ball moving. The players decide their decision-making,” he said.
“You can imagine a plan but it’s the quality of the players, how strong they are, that will make a difference. This game is players, it won’t be Carlo or myself who win it.”
There is some history that is in City’s favour, however — two years ago Guardiola’s side knocked the current La Liga leaders out of the competition in the last-16 stage after winning both legs 2-1.
City may have to take on Real without their first-choice right-back Kyle Walker and central defender John Stones, who are both doubtful with injuries.
Walker has been struggling with an ankle injury sustained against Atletico Madrid in the previous round and Stones is battling with a hamstring strain he gained in the midweek win over Brighton & Hove Albion.
“They are doubts, Kyle didn’t train in the last 10 days, John since Brighton. That’s why I don’t know if they will train,” said Guardiola.
Liverpool face Villarreal at Anfield in the other semifinal on Wednesday.
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