By BBC Sports
Real Madrid v Manchester City – Champions League semi-final first leg
Date: Tuesday, 9 May Venue: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Pep Guardiola says it would be a “huge mistake” for Manchester City to look for “revenge” against Real Madrid in their Champions League semi-final.
City led 5-3 on aggregate in the 90th minute of last year’s semi-final second leg, but Madrid remarkably fought back.
City boss Guardiola urged his team to use the rematch to prove they can beat the holders and eventually land Europe’s biggest club prize.
“We’re not here for revenge, we’re here for an opportunity,” said Guardiola.
“What happened, happened in the past. It would be a huge mistake to think about that.
“The lesson we learn from last year is not revenge, it is learn about what happened, get a good result, perform well and give the opportunity to leave the tie open in Manchester.”
After a 4-3 victory in the home leg last season, City extended their lead in the Bernabeu when Riyad Mahrez hammered in a 73rd-minute strike.
But two late goals from Madrid substitute Rodrygo dramatically sent the tie into extra time, with Karim Benzema completing an incredible turnaround for Carlo Ancelotti’s side by scoring a 95th-minute penalty.
“I’m not a big fan to talk about experiences as a positive or negative way,” said Guardiola.
“Of course we have the same managers and 80% same players on both sides, but these are completely different games.
Guardiola is confident City will land the Champions League
Little over a year since the 3-1 defeat, City have returned to Madrid for Tuesday’s first leg of this season’s semi-final.
The Spanish side – who went on to beat Liverpool in last year’s final – go to Manchester for the second leg on 17 May.
“The difference this year is the second leg is at home. I’m not sure if it is an advantage or disadvantage but I think everything will be decided in Manchester,” said Guardiola.
City are aiming for a Treble of Champions League, Premier League, and FA Cup, having moved clear of Arsenal in the domestic league and already booked their place against Manchester United in the Wembley final on 3 June.
Madrid looks almost certain to miss out on the Spanish La Liga title to Barcelona and, having won the Copa del Rey on Saturday, it means they can put most of their focus on trying to be crowned European champions for the sixth time in the past 10 seasons.
Former Barcelona manager Guardiola conceded last year’s exit in Madrid was “tough”, but says City remain on track to achieve their biggest goal of winning the Champions League.
“One day we will get it. We will get to the final and we will win it. We come here this season to do it,” Guardiola, whose side lost to Chelsea in the 2021 final, said.
“To win this competition you have to beat the best teams and Madrid is the best team in this competition in the past decade.”
City midfielder Rodri says his team have learned lessons from last year’s defeat, although he contradicted his manager by saying the players have the “hunger of gaining revenge”.
“We did 180 minutes brilliant but it is not enough sometimes – you can lose the leg in five minutes,” said the Spain international.
“The last minutes in the last leg we didn’t handle the right way and we have to learn from that. We have to kill them when we can.”
Ake misses training, Modric ‘going to play’ – team news
City defender Nathan Ake was missing from the open section of his team’s training session on Monday, leaving him a doubt for Tuesday’s match.
Ake, 28, has only recently returned after a hamstring injury and was substituted during the second half of Saturday’s win against Leeds United.
The Netherlands international has been outstanding at left-back for City since Joao Cancelo’s loan move to Bayern Munich in January.
Nathan Ake sits injured on the ground during Manchester City’s win against Leeds United
Ake was injured early in the second half of Manchester City’s home win against Leeds United on Saturday
Veteran midfielder Luka Modric is set to return to Real Madrid’s starting line-up after fully recovering from an unspecified injury.
The 37-year-old Croatia international, who won the Ballon d’Or in 2018, has recovered quicker than initially thought and came on as a late substitute in Saturday’s Copa del Rey final victory against Osasuna.
“He can play without a problem,” said Ancelotti. “He is going to play.”
‘Unstoppable’ City not all about Haaland, Kroos laughs off Rooney comments
City’s bid for the Treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League – only achieved once before in English football, by Manchester United in 1998-99 – has been spearheaded by the goals of Erling Haaland.
The 22-year-old Norway striker, signed from Borussia Dortmund for £51m last summer, has scored 51 goals in 46 games this season, including 12 in eight Champions League matches.
“Obviously Haaland is a very dangerous player. He’s showing impressive qualities, above all in goalscoring. He’s a threat,” Ancelotti said.
“Just talking about Haaland means not talking about a complete team that plays good football, defends well, attacks, that has ideas.
“We’re not setting up for a game to stop Haaland, but to stop a team that seems unstoppable, but I think we can have chances to have an equal game, one that we can win.”
Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos referenced last season’s extraordinary comeback when he laughed off former England striker Wayne Rooney’s suggestion City would “blow away” the Spanish side in this year’s tie.
“It was the same a year ago, no? That Madrid was out, and we did it,” Kroos said.
“I remember words from last year, not Rooney’s – who is a guy I like a lot, apart from what he said – but it doesn’t affect us.
“It doesn’t motivate us more either, because it’s impossible to be more motivated than we are.”