Pep Guardiola embraces Manchester City-Real Madrid Champions League ‘tradition’

Pep Guardiola is relishing another clash with Real Madrid after Manchester City were pitted against the Spanish giants for a third successive year.

Champions League holders City will take on the competition’s record 14-time winners in the quarter-finals of this season’s competition next month.

The two clubs have met in the semi-finals for the past two years, with Real winning in 2022 but City avenging that loss – wrapped up with a 4-0 win at the Etihad Stadium – last term.

“Hopefully we can arrive in a good moment but there are still a few weeks before the first game in Madrid.

“When people say draws are easy, you undermine the other opponent but it’s not necessary to say what Real Madrid are in this competition. When you play the latter stages you play against the best teams in Europe and Real Madrid are totally there.

“But all the opponents are really tough, everybody knows it. We were excited before the draw because it’s a privilege every time we are here. It is a special competition.”

City’s immediate priority is Saturday’s home FA Cup quarter-final tie against Newcastle.

Manchester City fans
Guardiola is calling on City fans to play their part (Nick Potts/PA)

Guardiola said: “This season and the previous one, and the previous one – since Eddie Howe was there and the people from Saudi Arabia took over – they have always been tight games.

“I don’t expect differently but we have an incredible chance at home with our people. From now on, until the end of the season, we need at every home game the support of our fans like we had against (Manchester) United.

“I can’t remember an environment like that for a long time and we need that tomorrow.”

City will be without key players Kevin De Bruyne and Ederson but Jack Grealish is back in contention after missing six of the last seven games with groin trouble.

“He’s getting better,” Guardiola said. “He’s in the group.”

Kevin De Bruyne
City will be without Kevin De Bruyne this weekend (Nick Potts/PA)

“He’s not ready,” Guardiola said. “He played at Anfield with some problems but he’s getting better.

“He’s not ready for tomorrow and we spoke with the Belgium manager Domenico Tedesco and he decided not to go. I’m grateful because he didn’t feel good.

“He can recover for the last part of the season. All the players today in modern football are not clean, always they have problems. It’s better to take a step back.”

Goalkeeper Ederson, who suffered a thigh injury as he fouled Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez to concede a penalty, should also return after the international break. Stefan Ortega will deputise this weekend.

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