“Manchester City Won’t Fear Real Madrid In UCL Second Leg” – Pellegrini
Manuel Pellegrini has stated that Manchester City will show no fear in Real Madrid for their Champions League semifinal second leg.
The City boss insisted the Spanish club were not favourites to reach the final despite holding his side to a 0-0 draw in Tuesday night’s first leg at the Etihad.
Pellegrini’s team have only lost one game away from home in the Champions League this season and any draw other than a scoreless one would be enough to ensure passage to a first-ever final in Milan on May 28.
However, Madrid have a fantastic record at the Bernabeu, where they have not conceded a goal in the Champions League this season.
Pellegrini told a news conference following the match: “I don’t think they are favourites. As I said before the game we have the same option as Real Madrid.
“Of course, they have the advantage to play the first game away so they try to manage the tempo of the game. After that they finish at home. But this team play away very similar to the way we play at the Etihad.
“We had good results playing away at Paris Saint-Germain, Dynamo Kiev and Sevilla. We are not afraid to go to Bernabeu and we will see which team plays better in that game.”
Real Madrid were without three-time Ballon D’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo while striker Karim Benzema lasted only 45 minutes after missing the game at the weekend with Rayo Vallecano.
However, Pellegrini denied they had missed an opportunity to beat Madrid with such key players missing.
“I don’t think Real Madrid [lacked quality] with the squad they have because Ronaldo didn’t play, because Benzema played only 45 minutes, same as David Silva only played 40 minutes.
“They didn’t have Ronaldo we didn’t have Yaya. It was a very close game where we tried to win from the beginning — we pressed high and recovered the ball very well. But we were not very creative, we couldn’t create clear chances to score.”
Pellegrini also praised Joe Hart after two brilliant saves in the last 15 minutes, which effectively kept City in the tie ahead of next Wednesday’s second leg. The England keeper kept out a Casemiro header and Pepe’s strike from very close range.
“It was very important because it was a corner he made a double save, one from Casemiro and one from Pepe,” added the Chilean. “He didn’t have much work during the whole game, but Joe is a good goalkeeper of a big team.”