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Pep Guardiola warns Man City may need to top first-leg display to reach CL final

Manchester City Training and Press Conference – City Football Academy – Tuesday May 3rd
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

Pep Guardiola feels Manchester City will probably have to improve on their first-leg performance against Real Madrid to progress to the Champions League final.

City are 4-3 up in the last-four clash with Real after a pulsating initial encounter at the Etihad Stadium last week.

Speaking at his press conference ahead of Wednesday’s semi-final second leg at the Bernabeu, City boss Guardiola said: “Yes, probably we will have to be better (than in the first leg to go through).

“But at the same time I would like to tell you one thing – we could play much, much worse than we played and we could win, and not anyone can deny my assessment is right.

“So nobody knows, football is unpredictable. Sometimes you get something you don’t deserve, sometimes you don’t get something maybe you deserve, for the effort, for many things.”

The tie is a showdown between the table-toppers in England and Spain, City battling it out with Liverpool at the Premier League summit while Real last weekend reclaimed the LaLiga title.

Guardiola, whose side are looking to reach the final of this competition for a second successive season, a year on from ending as runners-up to Chelsea, added: “I think it is two good teams and we saw it one week ago when we played. They are the champions in Spain, we are trying to be champions.

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“To try to be in another final, a second year in a row, is our target.

“We saw the game (last week), the good things, and the other things we have to improve, and we are going to try to do it.

“The past is the past, this is another game. We know it is 180 minutes, two legs. What has happened has happened.

“We talk about good things we have done, to try to do it again, and some things we have to do better, and we go there for that. I think everybody is ready to try to do it.

Bernardo Silva

Manchester City are 4-3 up after the first leg (Martin Rickett/PA)

“The fact we’ve been there quite often in the last years, in these big games or scenarios, in terms of ‘yeah, we’ve been here’, when you won – that helps. But that does not guarantee that you are going to play good or perform well. This is what we are going to try to do.”

Guardiola was asked about Real’s Luka Modric claiming that if the Spanish side produced their best performance, they would make the final, and said: “Every team thinks if they play their best they have more chance to beat their opponent. That is normal. We feel it too.”

Guardiola also expressed his admiration for the Spanish outfit’s coach, Carlo Ancelotti.

“I congratulate him, of course, for the Spanish league – I did it when he came last week,” the former Barcelona boss said.

Carlo Ancelotti

Carlo Ancelotti has led Real Madrid to the LaLiga title (Bernat Armangue/AP)

“He has been all around the world in the biggest football countries with fantastic teams, and always did an incredible job and his football always is really good.

“And apart from that he is an exceptional person. I was lucky to meet him years ago and every time when you are with him you feel like he is a calm person and he knows how to control his emotions and feelings, and I think his teams express perfectly who he is.”

Wednesday’s contest could see Kyle Walker make a return to action after missing the last five matches due to an ankle injury.

Walker is back in training and Guardiola confirmed he will travel to Spain, with a late decision to be made. Fellow defender John Stones remains sidelined.

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