Real Madrid Manager, Pep Guardiola on Wednesday said that Manchester City were perfectly prepared with the right mix of calmness and tension for their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.
The English champions dismantled the holders 4-0 with a ruthless display to secure a 5-1 aggregate win.
The result meant Manchester City secured a final berth against Inter Milan where they will bid to win European club soccer’s most prestigious trophy for the first time.
It was sweet revenge for a painful semi-final loss to Real Madrid 12 months ago.
“I had the feeling these last days that we had a mix of calm and tension to play these type of games.
“And after 10 or 15 minutes, I had the feeling that all the pain that we had, what happened last season . . . it was really tough, losing the way we lost and I think in the moment we had to swallow poison,” Guardiola told reporters.
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Real Madrid knocked Manchester City out 12 months ago 6-5 on aggregate after an extraordinary late comeback.
“In sport, obviously you have another chance and when the draw was Madrid, I said, ‘Yeah, I want it’,” Guardiola said.
Bernardo Silva netted a first-half double to put City in control and, after Erling Haaland failed to convert two gilt-edge chances, Manuel Akanji and Julian Alvarez completed the rout.
Real Madrid arrived with history on their side as title-holders and record 14-times European champions.
But Manchester City, buoyed by an unbeaten 23-game run in all competitions, had not lost in 26 Champions League matches at the Etihad Stadium, which was a writhing sea of sky blue for the visit of the Spanish giants.
Manchester City had played the 2021 semi-final against Paris St Germain in Manchester with no fans in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This time the players stayed on the pitch long after the final whistle to celebrate, with Haaland wearing a Norwegian flag draped around his shoulders.
“(Tonight was) much, much better,” Guardiola said. “I felt, I don’t know why, you smelled that the team was ready to compete at the level that they competed today.”
City are three wins away from a treble as they play Manchester United in the FA Cup final on June 3 and could win the Premier League as early as Saturday.
“We’re closer. This season is really really good, what we’ve really done already.
“The pleasure, the joy, how much we have fun this season again and again. We make happy our fans, all around the world watching us, they see a good team playing. This is the biggest compliment,” Guardiola said.
Guardiola added that the players, staff and families would gather for a team breakfast before enjoying a day off on Thursday ahead of their preparations for their final push to clinch the English League title.
Victory over Inter Milan in the Champions League final in Istanbul on June 10 would secure the one trophy Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour has craved since buying Manchester City in 2008.
Manchester City lost to Chelsea two years ago in their only previous appearance in the final.