Carlo Ancelotti said on Monday that Real Madrid’s glittering history in the Champions League gives them an advantage when they face Manchester City in the first leg of the semi-finals on Tuesday.
Madrid’s 13 European triumphs makes them the most successful club in the competition while City only appeared in the Champions League final for the first time last year, when they were beaten 1-0 by Chelsea.
“The history that Real Madrid has in this competition means a lot more to us than to our rivals,” said Ancelotti in a press conference. “That history that has grown over the years helps the players feel the weight of the shirt, a weight that is positive, not negative.”
Pep Guardiola admitted Manchester City cannot compete with Real Madrid’s European pedigree but said they can write a new chapter of their own.
“If we had to compete with history, we wouldn’t have a chance,” Guardiola said at his pre-match press conference. “Their history speaks for itself.
“We have to have the desire to compete against them. To play against Real Madrid is an incredible test. We want to try it. We need to suffer, to stick together, when we have the ball, try to attack.
“It would be the same if we face Bayern Munich or Barcelona, the teams who have been here many times. A decade ago we weren’t here and now we are here. It’s good lessons for the future.”
City and Real also met in the semi-finals in 2016 when the Spaniards won 1-0 on aggregate, but City avenged that loss with a last-16 triumph in 2020.
“The pressure is similar for both teams,” said Ancelotti. “For Real Madrid it is not a success to win a semi-final. It’s a success to win the final in this competition. Normally if Real Madrid reaches the final, they have a good chance of winning.”
Guardiola highlighted the experience of the Real players, many of whom have won multiple Champions League titles.
“We play against players who have been in this position many times,” he said.
“That’s why they have things that maybe still we don’t have. But maybe there are things we have they don’t have, I don’t know. At the end it is 11 v 11.”
Despite the pressure, the City boss also urged his men relish the occasion.
“Being in the semi-final is so good,” he said. “One day we will not be here because it’s so demanding – look at the big teams who are not here.
“I say to the players ‘enjoy that moment’. You never know if we will be back here at any stage.”
Guardiola said he would make a final decision on the fitness of defenders Kyle Walker and John Stones on Tuesday, admitting the pair were “doubts”. Joao Cancelo will miss the game through suspension.
Casemiro is unlikely to play at the Etihad Stadium, with Ancelotti rating the Brazilian as further behind in his recovery than defender David Alaba. Ferland Mendy is fit again and available.