Pep Guardiola has spoken of his ‘incredible admiration’ for Real Madrid as Manchester City prepare to face the Spanish giants in the last-16 of the Champions League.
The reigning Premier League champions meet the 13-time European champions in the first leg of what is a hugely anticipated tie on Wednesday night, City travelling to the Bernabeu to face a Real side who have won four of the past six editions of the tournament.
Guardiola admits his side face a formidable task to seal their progress to the last eight, and despite his links to Real’s bitter rivals Barcelona, the Man City boss has spoken of his admiration for this weeks opponents.
“I have played them many times as a football player and as a manager. I have an incredible admiration for this club,” Guardiola said, as per the Manchester Evening News.
“The players who have played there have played so many times in the [Champions League] final and I don’t know how many times each one has lifted it.
BREAKING: Real Madrid have announced that Eden Hazard has fractured his right ankle.
He will miss Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Man City and next Sunday’s Clasico. pic.twitter.com/5htKCDAmAs
— B/R Football (@brfootball) February 23, 2020
“Maybe Claudio [Bravo] has won the Champions League and someone else. We don’t have many players who have won it. But we need the desire to win it and be ourselves, We could win it or lose it.
“But we must be ourselves in the 180 minutes against Real Madrid. It is the real, real test.”
Guardiola admitted that he wants his City side to ’emulate and imitate’ Los Blancos as they bid to establish themselves as the best in the world.
“You have players who come to Madrid and pull on the shirt, they know they are defending their history,” said Guardiola. “That makes an extra thing. Not just the spectators and media.
“They are the club we want to emulate and imitate and we have to be there. I want to go there and at the end of the game I want to say ‘we were what we are’. This is the most important thing in these types of competitions.
“We need to go and try and do it at one of the biggest, nicest and most prestigious stadiums. After that, we will try with our weapons and try to score the goals. If we cannot, we will congratulate them and try and improve for the next time.
“For us being here is exciting, so good and we will try to do our best, knowing we play against a team who have won 13 Champions Leagues and is a king.”