Manuel Pellegrini claims Manchester City have “nothing to fear” against his former club Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals.
Paris Saint-Germain boss Laurent Blanc referred to City as a “guest club” in the last four of Europe’s elite competition after the French champions were beaten in the quarter-finals.
It was not meant as a disparaging remark from Blanc, but more of a comment on how City would be rubbing shoulders with the established giants of the continent.
They do not come bigger in terms of stature and history than the team City were paired with in Friday’s draw – 10-time winners Real – but Pellegrini is ready for the challenge.
The Chilean, who was in charge at the Bernabeu in the 2009-10 campaign, said: “They have very big players, maybe they are the most important team in the world, but we also have very good players and we know that if we play how we play every week we have an option to win.
“There are no favourites. It’s exactly the same, both teams have the same chances. We are going to play against them like we always do, playing and thinking as a big team.”
City will host Real on April 26 before travelling to the Spanish capital on May 4.
In the other semi-final new favourites Bayern Munich will face Atletico Madrid, who knocked out the much-fancied Barcelona.
“I did not celebrate but if you ask me, ‘Do I not prefer to play against them?’ I prefer not to play against them,” Pellegrini said of the Catalans’ exit.
Zidane on Man City challenge
Zinedine Zidane, the Real Madrid boss, is anticipating a “big battle”.
He said: “It will be a very, very difficult game. The good thing is we play the return at home.
“Madrid are always favourites, and always will be. But we know how difficult it is to play a Champions League semi-final against Manchester City. We will do our best to go through.”