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Pep Guardiola: 'We are ready to take on Real Madrid'

Pep Guardiola: 'We are ready to take on Real Madrid'
© Reuters
The Premier League club take a narrow lead into the second leg of their last-16 clash against Real Madrid.

Pep Guardiola insists his Manchester City side are ready as their Champions League day of reckoning against Real Madrid finally arrives.

City belatedly host the 13-time European champions in the second leg of their last-16 tie on Friday, more than five months after their memorable 2-1 victory at the Bernabeu in the first game.

Guardiola has referenced the game repeatedly since the season resumed following the Covid-19 stoppage and the former Barcelona boss is in determined mood.

City claimed a memorable victory in the first leg at the Bernabeu
City claimed a memorable victory in the first leg at the Bernabeu (Nick Potts/PA)

Guardiola said: "I have the feeling now that we are ready to play the game, do a good performance and win the game.

"We want to win this competition, for sure. To win this competition you have to beat teams like Madrid. We cannot expect another issue.

"If you want to win this competition – and we want it – we have to beat them and win the next rounds."

Avoiding defeat on the night would take City through to the newly organised last-eight tournament in Lisbon.

Guardiola won the competition twice with Barcelona but suffered three semi-final defeats at Bayern Munich and this is his fourth attempt with City after knockout stage defeats to Monaco, Liverpool and Tottenham.

The Catalan has warned his players they must avoid repeating their defensive mistakes of the past.

He said: "More than conceding a goal, it is the way we concede the goals. If they are brilliant and make a good action we have to accept it, but most of them were goals we could have avoided.

"We have to avoid making mistakes. In this competition they punish you a lot.

"We have spoken about it, not now but many times in the last years and we know it. If we want to step forward as a team to be close to winning this competition we have to be better in this area."

Despite having plenty of time to plan, Guardiola feels the first leg was too long ago to influence his thinking. He also believes the ability of opposite number Zinedine Zidane to think on his feet is an additional complication.

He said: "When you think you have one of his tactical plans covered, he will hit you with another one or revert to the original one you thought he was going to use. It is always very difficult to analyse someone's tactics.

"In the dim and distant past we played the first leg and what we can remember we have put to good use. But it is a long time ago. It is a different game."

One player Guardiola will not have to counter is Wales forward Gareth Bale, who has fallen out of favour under Zidane and has not travelled to Manchester.

Zidane insists this was the player's own decision.

Four-time Champions League winner Gareth Bale will not be involved
Four-time Champions League winner Gareth Bale will not be involved (Nick Potts/PA)

The Frenchman said: "It was a personal conversation I had with him. He preferred not to play. The rest remains between me and him but he said he didn't want to play."

Eden Hazard could feature after an ankle injury but Sergio Ramos is suspended.

"We know we are behind in the tie but we are focused and this is another final for us," said Zidane, who is bidding for a fourth Champions League title as Real coach.

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Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane before the match on February 26, 2020
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