Man City determined to dethrone kings of Champions League and finally take European crown
City midfielder Rodri used the phrase “Kings of the Champions League ” to describe the 14-time European champions, but insisted Pep Guardiola’s side have no fear of them or an inferiority complex
Manchester City are determined to dethrone the “Kings of the Champions League ” when they take on Real Madrid.
City midfielder Rodri used the phrase to describe the 14-time European champions, but insisted Pep Guardiola’s side have no fear of them or an inferiority complex.
A year ago, City were minutes from beating Real to book their place in the final against Liverpool, only for Carlo Ancelotti’s side to score twice in the 90th and 91st minutes to force extra-time.
City were crushed by that agonisingly late double blow and there was only going to be one winner after that, with Karim Benzema winning and converting a penalty to send Real through to the final.
Fate has handed City the chance to avenge that agonising experience, with Rodri convinced they have learned what it takes to ensure a different outcome – despite the formidable threat posed by Real.
“We respect them,” said Rodri. “They are the Kings of this competition, but we have weapons and our opponent knows that.
“We’re in a great moment and we’re afraid of nothing.
“We know there is a second leg and nothing will be decided tomorrow, so we trust 100 per cent that we’ll be able to quality.
“We tried to learn from the experience. It’s those experiences that bring us here and allow us dream and fight against the biggest team in the competition.”
Unlike his manager, Rodri has not watched a re-run last season’s second leg against Real, but pointed to City’s comeback from 2-0 down against Aston Villa, to win 3-2 and clinch the Premier League title, as proof of their strength of character.
“I’ve not watched it again, but I don’t have to,” said Rodri. “Three weeks after that, we did the same thing to win the Premier League.
“We scored three times in seven minutes. So sometimes it cannot be explained, what happens in football.”
This time around, City have a unique weapon in 51-goal striker Erling Haaland, who is averaging a goal every 58 minutes in the Champions League this season.
Rodri highlighted the threat Haaland will pose and said: “Of course for us he’s such an important player.
“Since the beginning, we never doubted his capability to score goals, and he fits so well into the team.
“As a team, we’re getting the best moments from each other, understanding each other, and we’ve changed from how we played last season.”
The Champions League remains the Holy Grail for City, the one trophy they have yet to win since becoming the dominant force in English football over the past decade.
“The demand to win the Champions League, I know it,” said Guardiola. “I had the feeling when I arrived.
“They didn’t ask me but I know the feeling that after the first Premier League the target was the Champions League. It’s normal. When you don’t have one trophy you want it. It’s nice, in a good way.
“As much as we are here, one day we will get it. One day we will reach the final and win it. We come here to do it this season but we did this last season and it didn’t happen because Real Madrid knows exactly what you have to do in this competition.
“As long as we play against them, the closer we will be.”