Manuel Pellegrini plays down Real Madrid return

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini says there will be no extra personal motivation when his team take on former club Real Madrid for a place in the Champions League final.

City knocked out PSG 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 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. In the other semi-final, Bayern travel to Atletico Madrid in their first leg.

Pellegrini was manager at Real 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.

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 Etihad Stadium in the summer ahead of the arrival of Pep Guardiola, the current Bayern Munich boss.

“It didn’t matter which of the three teams we had to play, the three were difficult.”

Madrid are within four points of La Liga leaders Barcelona, whom they beat 2-1 in the Nou Camp a fortnight ago. Zinedine Zidane, the current Real Madrid boss, is anticipating a “big battle” against City but took some positives from the draw.

He said: “The good thing is we play the return at home. Madrid are always favourites but we know how difficult it is to play a Champions League semi-final against Manchester City. We will do our best.”

Meanwhile Kevin De Bruyne claims he has nothing to prove to Chelsea as he prepares to return to Stamford Bridge with Manchester City.

The Belgian had an unsuccessful spell with the London club earlier in his career.

De Bruyne made just nine appearances for Chelsea before being sold to Wolfsburg for £18million by then manager Jose Mourinho in 2014.

Just 18 months later he joined City in a club record £54m deal and has not looked back since.

De Bruyne said: “I don’t feel I have to prove anything to anyone. It’s not a case of I played a lot and played badly. I just didn’t play.

“It is what it is and I’m just going there to try and help City win the game, which is really important for us.”


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