Manuel Pellegrini has given his verdict on the Champions League semi-final draw which sees Manchester City face his former club Real Madrid.
City knocked out Paris Saint-Germain in the last eight thanks to a goal from Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne which secured a 1-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium and sent the Premier League side through 3-2 on aggregate into Friday’s draw, where they were paired against the Spanish giants.
Madrid, who have won the European competition a record 10 times, recovered from a 2-0 first-leg defeat by Wolfsburg to progress following a hat-trick by Cristiano Ronaldo.
City will be at home in the first leg on April 26 before heading to the Bernabeu a week later.
Pellegrini was manager at Real Madrid from 2009 to 2010, during which time the likes of Ronaldo was bought from Manchester United for £80m, along with Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso.
The Chilean, though, was sacked after just one season, and replaced by Jose Mourinho following early elimination from the Champions League and also losing out on the domestic championship to Barcelona.
The 62-year-old, however, maintains there will be no sense of retribution against his former employers.
“No, it is not an extra motivation. Always the motivation is to play the semi-final of the Champions League,” said Pellegrini, who is to leave his post at the Ethiad Stadium in the summer ahead of the arrival of Pep Guardiola, the current Bayern Munich boss.
“It is a difficult draw. It didn’t matter which of the three teams we had to play, the three were difficult.
“I think the options to continue are the same for the teams and we will expect to do a very good game against a big team.”
Real Madrid are within four points of La Liga leaders Barcelona, whom they beat 2-1 in the Nou Camp a fortnight ago.
Pellegrini knows from first-hand experience just what the demands are at the Spanish club for sustained success.
“I think always for a big team it is important to arrive to the last stage of the Champions League and try to win it, but also not to leave out their domestic games,” he said.
“Real Madrid know every year they must win titles and be involved in all the competitions.
“In this moment I think they are playing the semi-final of the Champions League and they still have options in the Spanish league, so as always it is a team that is involved in all.”
City have announced that seasoncard holders and members who have attended all five of their home games in the competition this season will be entitled to a £10 discount for the Real Madrid home leg on April 26.
The club were criticised for pricing seats at up to £60 for Tuesday’s quarter-final against Paris St Germain and the match only sold out the day before the game, albeit securing a club record European attendance of 53,039.
This time tickets will be priced from £35-60 for adults, but the club will reward the loyalty of more than 20,000 fans by offering a cut-price deal.
Pellegrini hopes the Champions League will continue to grow in the hearts of fans following the apathy of previous seasons.
He said: “I think the fans will enjoy the way this club continue going further in the competition.
“They will enjoy more and more the Champions League, it is the most important club competition in the world. I hope in the future they will enjoy it more than now.”
The other tie will see Atletico Madrid, who knocked out Barcelona, take on Munich – which means Guardiola could yet face his new club in the Milan final on May 28.