Rio Ferdinand, the former Manchester United defender and current BT Sport pundit, has shared his views on the upcoming Champions League semi-final clash between Real Madrid and Manchester City. The two teams will meet at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday, May 9, for the first leg of their tie, and then again on May 17th for the second leg in Manchester.
Ferdinand, who won the Champions League with United in 2008, has praised both teams for their quality and performance, but has warned City that they will face a tough test against the 14-time European champions.
City’s treble bid
Ferdinand believes that City have a realistic chance of winning the treble this season, as they are leading the Premier League and will be playing in the FA Cup final in June. He said that City have shown consistency and dominance in domestic competitions, and have also gone far in Europe under Pep Guardiola.
“Manchester City could win every game they have coming up, and they have shown that with the amount of points they have accumulated in the last two seasons,” Ferdinand said. “You would be stupid to doubt City’s chances of winning the treble, a feat that only Manchester United has achieved in England.”
Ferdinand has also previously credited City’s star striker Erling Haaland for his impact this season, as he has scored 12 goals in 8 Champions League games. He said that Haaland’s presence and goalscoring ability could be the difference for City in their quest for European glory.
“Haaland’s impact [will be the difference],” Ferdinand said back in April. “He is a phenomenal player, a goalscoring machine. He has shown that he can do it at the highest level, and he has a hunger and a desire to win trophies. He is a perfect fit for City,” Ferdinand said.
The Real Madrid barrier
However, Ferdinand also warned City that they should not underestimate Real Madrid, who have a stranglehold on the Champions League. He said that Real Madrid have a history and a pedigree in the Champions League that cannot be ignored, and that they have world-class players who can turn the game around at any moment.
“The big one is Real Madrid. It doesn’t matter how Real Madrid come into that game, we’ve seen the history they have in the Champions League,” Ferdinand said. “They can pull a great performance out of nothing, and they have world-class players all over the pitch and the experience to match Manchester City.”