Pep Guardiola is wary of Real Madrid's threat in the UEFA Champions League and has warned his side about the task at hand. The Manchester City manager took his troops to the Santiago Bernabeu and walked away with a crucial lead in the UCL tie.
Real Madrid were set to travel to Manchester for the second leg of the UCL tie back in March. However, it was called off due to the COVID-19 lockdown. The two teams will now face-off for the second leg on August 7 to determine the winner of this knockout tie.
Guardiola's City were terrific at the Bernabeu and outfoxed the Catalan's former Clasico rivals on their own turf. Despite carrying a 2-1 lead into the second leg, Guardiola believes that Real Madrid are more than capable of eliminating the Cityzens.
"No one individual knows Real Madrid better than me," says Guardiola on UCL opponents
Although they could potentially face Lyon or Juventus in the last eight of the UCL, Guardiola believes City's focus should solely be on Real Madrid.
The 49-year-old explained;
"We [Manchester City] think about Real Madrid. We think about Real Madrid. If we think about the next step when we are playing against the king of this competition, they will put us out."
It is no surprise that Guardiola branded Zinedine Zidane's men as the 'kings' of the UCL, given that they have won a record 13 European titles. The Frenchman led Los Blancos to three consecutive UCL titles in his first three seasons in charge.
Guardiola also claimed to know their opposition better than anyone else at City. The former Barcelona youth product, player and coach, has spent a lot of time in the past plotting victories against Los Blancos — either on the pitch or from the sidelines.
"In this organisation there is no one individual who knows Real Madrid better than me. They [Real Madrid] are the dominant team in the UCL and we have to focus on them."
The former Bayern Munich coach is set to face Real Madrid in the UCL without his star striker Sergio Aguero. The prolific Argentine picked up a knee injury which will see him miss the remainder of the season, including City's UCL endeavours.
Likewise, Guardiola's counterpart Zidane will be without his best defender and leader, Sergio Ramos. The Spanish captain picked up a red card for a last-man tackle in the dying minutes of the first leg of the UCL tie. It would be a massive blow for Real Madrid, mainly because Ramos' deputy, Eder Militao, hasn't had the greatest of seasons.
Los Blancos' star man Eden Hazard, should he remain fit for the game could help his side's cause heading into the fixture. The Belgian has endured a difficult season in the Spanish capital and could perhaps make the difference for Real Madrid.
Should Zidane's side fail to overturn the deficit, it would result in their elimination from the round of 16 for the second year running after AFC Ajax beat them last year.Published 10 Jul 2020, 22:16 IST