Manchester City have avoided a meeting with future boss Pep Guardiola after being drawn to play Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
The first leg of this season’s encounter is scheduled to take place at the Etihad Stadium on April 26.
In the other semi-final new favourites Bayern Munich will face Atletico Madrid, who knocked out the much-fancied Barcelona.
It is Zinedine Zidane’s Madrid who now stand in their way after Friday’s draw in Nyon and Zabaleta is wary of taking on such decorated opposition. But we know how hard it is to play a Champions League semi-final against Manchester City. It will be a very hard match.
Another Spanish club Atletico away to defending champion champions.
Atletico-Bayern match will held at Vicente Calderon next 27 April.
“We are confident and we will aim to make it very hard for Real Madrid over the two legs; we want to get to the final in Milan and we know we can do this”.
Madrid superstars Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Pepe cut relaxed figures at the team’s Valdebebas training base ahead of their return to La Liga action against Getafe on Saturday. They last won the competition in 2013-14, beating Atletico 4-1 after extra time for their 10th-ever European Cup win. “Probably the worst thing for us is playing the second leg at the Bernabeu, which is a huge stadium with a lot of history in this competition”.
There is an added incentive for both clubs to do well in Europe, says the Telegraph, which notes that if they both win their competitions, Manchester United may be denied a place in the Champions League next season as only the Premier League’s top three.
“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. Conversely, Los Merengues have lifted the Champions League trophy more than anyone else – most recently defeating local rivals Atletico Madrid in the final two seasons ago.
“He was on a yellow card and one more foul and all of the fans of Chelsea would be every time [trying] to pressure the referee to send him off”.