Manuel Pellegrini says Manchester City will have a different attitude than Real Madrid showed in the first leg when they travel to Santiago Bernabeu, with the hosts hoping star man Cristiano Ronaldo will be passed fit to play.
The 0-0 draw in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final at the Etihad Stadium – which Ronaldo missed with a hamstring injury – has the tie evenly poised as the two teams meet on Wednesday bidding to reach the final in Milan.
Madrid are looking to make what would be their 14th final in Europe’s elite club competition, while City have already broken new ground in the tournament this season by making it past the last-16 for the first time. Their only continental final was the Cup Winners’ Cup final win over Gornik Zabrze in 1970.
The statistics are in Madrid’s favour, with only 31 per cent of the teams who have drawn the home leg of a Champions League knockout tie going on to progress (nine out of 29).
Madrid have also kept a clean sheet in all five of their Champions League home games this season, but Pellegrini is going to Spain targeting an away goal that he thinks could make all the difference.
“I was surprised that Madrid sat so deep in the first leg,” he told El Mundo Deportivo.
“In the first half, especially, the team who wanted to get the ball higher and had more intent was ours. Perhaps at some point they were overwhelmed and maybe speculated, rightly, to play the first away match trying not to lose.
“Our team lacked a lot of creativity, lost the ball very quickly, but I think we had an attitude of trying to win the game.
“We will try to do exactly the same in Madrid. We will not go to the Bernabeu trying for a goalless draw. We will try to get high, press and score a goal because a draw will favour us if we score.”
Asked about Madrid’s home defensive record, he said: “Statistics are there to be broken and I also see Madrid playing more openly.
“In Europe we have had a breakthrough. Before I arrived, the team was eliminated in the group stage, then fell twice in the second round eliminated by Barcelona. Now we are in the semi-finals – it is a club that is growing and winning titles.”
Ronaldo completed training on Monday ahead of the game, while Madrid are also hoping to have Karim Benzema fit after he limped out of the opening match with his own hamstring problem at half-time.
The Portugal international has only missed seven of Madrid’s 80 Champions League games since signing in 2009 and their win rate plummets from 71 to 43 per cent when he is out of the side.
Ronaldo has scored or assisted an astonishing 77 per cent of Madrid’s goals in the competition this season (20 out of 26) and is only one away from equalling his own record of 17 in a single campaign.
“In my head I want them and we think that they will be ready,” Zidane said of Benzema and Ronaldo.
Director Emilio Butragueno insisted the medical team have Madrid’s full support despite reports of a strained relationship with senior players and hopes they can get the pair ready in time.
“Our confidence in them is total,” he said. “The most important thing is the game on Wednesday.
“Hopefully all the injured players can be ready for such an important game. We only think about that and about getting to the final.”
- 31% of teams who have drawn 0-0 at home in the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie have progressed to the next round (9 out of 29). The last team to do so were Atlético Madrid in the 2014 semi-finals (vs Chelsea).
- Real Madrid have hosted Manchester City once before at the Santiago Bernabéu; the Spanish side scored two goals in the final three minutes to win 3-2 during a Champions League group stage match in September 2012.
- Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last nine games against English sides in the Champions League (W6 D3). The last English team to knock Real out in the competition were Liverpool in 2008/09 (5-0 on aggregate in the Last 16).