Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said he is hopeful of his team’s chances of reaching the Champions League final as they face Real Madrid in the semi-final first leg on Tuesday.
City are at the top of the Premier League and have won their last five matches in all competitions, scoring 14 goals and conceding just three.
Guardiola, who has won the Champions League twice as Barcelona manager but never with City, said he was satisfied with his team’s form and attitude ahead of the crucial game.
“We are in a good moment, we are playing well, we are confident,” he said at his pre-match press conference on Monday. “We know how hard it is to play against Real Madrid, they are the most successful team in this competition, they have a lot of experience and quality. But we are ready to compete with them and try to win.”
Guardiola said he was not bothered by the history of City’s failures in the Champions League knockout stages, where they have never reached the final and have been knocked out by English teams three times in the last four seasons.
“We don’t think about the past, we think about the present and the future,” he said. “We have a great opportunity to do something special, to make history for this club. We respect Real Madrid a lot, but we have our own strengths and we will try to use them.”
Guardiola also spoke about the fine margins needed to win the Champions League. Those details were not in his side’s favour last season, as Real Madrid over-turned the tie and dominated the clutch-end of the second leg to advance.
“We came here better mentally last year to win the first leg... and look what happened,” he said. “Mendy cleared a ball off the line and what happened happened. Those details lead you to a final or not.”
Guardiola also stated that having the second leg at the Etihad — away from the wrath of the Bernabeu — should help his team.
“Seven years ago we wanted to win the Champions League. Last season it was [like] the end of the world but here we are again.
“Being stable is the most important thing. The important thing is we are trying to get better every year.
“We were prepared last year too. We are the same manager, mainly the same players but completely different games.
“The difference is the second leg is at home and everything will be decided in Manchester.”