Man City Gears Up to Welcome the Champions League King

MADRID (AP) — One of the Champions League’s newest rivalries resumes this week when Real Madrid hopes to take advantage of extended rest in Tuesday’s quarterfinal against Manchester City.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, entering his record-extending 200th Champions League match, has had eight full days to prepare his squad for facing Pep Guardiola’s Man City for the third straight year in the knockout rounds.

City, meanwhile, played on Saturday at Crystal Palace in the English Premier League and Guardiola wasn’t happy about the considerable difference in the teams’ preparation time. Madrid’s last Spanish league match was on March 31, a 2-0 win at Athletic Bilbao. Madrid didn’t play this past weekend as it was reserved in the Spanish calendar for the Copa del Rey final.

“Maybe they have a bit of an advantage in this sense,” City midfielder Rodri said on Monday. “Let’s see how the team responds physically. Of course we would like to rest like them, but it’s something that doesn’t worry us.”

Ancelotti said he was not going to make any “rare” changes to his team or try anything too different tactically because of the extra time he had to prepare.

“It is an incredibly attractive match,” he said. “The quality of both sides will allow us to watch a beautiful match at a technical level. We think we will be better than City in some aspects and they think they will be better than us in others.”

Madrid eliminated City two seasons ago with a late comeback in the second leg of the semifinals at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, where it hasn’t lost in 27 straight games in all competitions dating to last April.

But City got the better of Madrid last season, advancing after a 4-0 rout in the second leg of the semifinals at home. Both clubs went on to win the Champions League title after eliminating their rival.

The last four matches between them produced 17 goals in total. They will have faced each other 12 times in 12 years after this season’s quarterfinals. So far there are four wins for City and three for Madrid, with three draws.

Both teams are trying to reach the semifinals for the fourth straight time.


City has injury concerns at full back, with captain and first-choice right back Kyle Walker hurt on England duty in the recent international break and Guardiola’s two main options at left back — Nathan Ake and Josko Gvardiol — picking up injuries since the resumption of the Premier League.

“It is what it is,” Guardiola said. “We will play with 11 and try to adapt with the players that we have.”

None of Walker, Ake or Gvardiol were spotted in training on Monday, likely leaving Guardiola having to play 19-year-old Rico Lewis at right back and Manuel Akanji out of position at left back.

“They have some setbacks but have managed them well,” Ancelotti said. “They are solid in defense, this is not going to affect them.”


Ancelotti arrives as the coach with the most Champions League titles (four) and victories (114), and he will be reaching his milestone 200th game in charge.

It will be the 59th game in the Madrid dugout for the Italian, who is in his 21st Champions League at age 64.

“Reaching 200 games means a lot,” Ancelotti said. “Surviving so many years in football, especially at my age, is a success.”

Guardiola has the second most Champions League victories as a coach, with 109 wins in 167 appearances.


Ancelotti will try to win his third Champions League title with Madrid and a squad boosted by the signing of Jude Bellingham.

The young England midfielder has never played in the Premier League, having joined Borussia Dortmund at an early age, but he has faced Man City four times and scored twice.

Bellingham has 20 goals and 10 assists since joining Madrid and is one of the club’s top attacking weapons this season along with Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo.

“The difference is what he has in his brain, his mind,” Guardiola said of Bellingham. “He has been brilliant.”


Madrid and City drew 1-1 in the first leg at the Bernabeu last season in a match marked by the duel between Madrid defender Antonio Rüdiger and City striker Erling Haaland, who was the Champions League leading scorer at the time.

But Rüdiger and Madrid’s defense made sure Haaland wasn’t a factor, and the Norway international got only a few touches throughout the match.

“We did a great job controlling Haaland, who didn’t receive many passes,” Rüdiger said. “For this game it will be the same plan.”


AP Sports Writer Steve Douglas contributed.


AP soccer:


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