Claude Makelele, the former Chelsea and Real Madrid midfielder, spoke to the media today in Paris ahead of the Laureus World Sport Awards. He shared his views on what he thinks will happen in tomorrow’s Champions League semi-final clash between Real Madrid and Manchester City.
On Real Madrid
Makelele said that he still considers Real Madrid as the best team in the world, despite their inconsistent form this season. He said that he is a fan of the club and that he has fond memories of his time there, where he won two La Liga titles and one Champions League trophy.
He said: “For me, Real Madrid is still the best team in the world, but Manchester City has learned how to play this competition. But I’m still a fan of Madrid. I have a lot of respect for them. I won a lot of things with them.”
On Manchester City
Makelele said that Manchester City have a good chance of reaching their first Champions League final this season, as they have improved their defensive solidity and their maturity under Pep Guardiola. He said that City have learned from their previous failures in the competition and have added a lethal striker in Erling Haaland.
He said: “City have a good opportunity. It’s different from other years. Now they have a more compact team and they have learned from this competition. They lost, lost, lost… And while they won the Premier League and gained experience. Now Guardiola has understood that the Champions League is another way of playing.”
He added: “And I’m not referring only to what happened last year (when they were eliminated by Real), he has learned from other seasons as well. It happened to us at Chelsea before. You have to fight for a long time before you win this trophy. Madrid is different because they know what to do in this competition. They are used to playing two different competitions in a different way. I would say that City have a slight advantage, 51 percent.”
He also expressed his admiration for Kevin De Bruyne, who plays in midfield and has been one of City’s best performers in recent years. He said that De Bruyne is a complete midfielder who can do everything on the pitch.
He said: “De Bruyne is a fantastic player. He can play in any position in midfield. He can defend, he can attack, he can pass, he can score. He is very intelligent and very fast.”