Could Man City ban help them beat Real Madrid?
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Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling is available for the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie away at Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Sterling had been out for three weeks with a hamstring injury and midfielder David Silva could also play at the Bernabeu after a minor knee issue.
Winger Leroy Sane is unavailable as he recovers from a long-term knee problem.
Real forward Eden Hazard, who left Chelsea in June, could miss the rest of the season with a fractured ankle.
“Raheem is fit, his natural physical condition and regeneration is amazing,” said Guardiola.
“He told us he could play at West Ham and Leicester but the doctors said be careful as muscular injuries take three weeks. After 15 days he wanted to play. He is fit, he is ready.”
‘You have to beat the big, big teams’
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has challenged his players to “fight until the end” and gain their first-ever Champions League victory over Real, a side who have won the tournament in four of the past six seasons.
“This is the real test. The kings of this competition against one team who aren’t used to playing these kind of games much, as our best performance was one semi-final,” said Guardiola.
Raheem Sterling has scored five times for Manchester City in this season’s Champions League
City have been banned by European football’s governing body Uefa from playing in European competition for the next two seasons following an investigation into alleged breaches of Financial Fair Play rules, although Guardiola’s side plan to appeal their ban.
“We have to show our personality,” added the Spaniard. “I know my players, myself, all the club want to fight until the end for this title.
“But if you want to do that [win the title] you have to face these teams sooner or later. You have to beat Madrid, you have to beat Barcelona, you have to beat Bayern Munich. You have to beat the big, big teams.
“If we’re able to do it we’ll be so happy. If not then next season… well, next season I don’t know but when we are able to play we are going to come back.”
- Manchester City have never beaten Real Madrid – they have faced each other four times, each occasion in the Champions League, with City losing their two away games at Santiago Bernabeu and drawing the other two at the Etihad.
- Real Madrid have prevailed in their last four Champions League knockout ties against English opposition: 5-0 on aggregate v Tottenham (2010-11 quarter-finals), 3-2 v Manchester United (2012-13 last 16), 1-0 v Manchester City (2015-16 semi-finals), 3-1 v Liverpool (2017-18 final).
- They have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League for the 23rd consecutive season, the longest run in the history of the tournament and a streak that began in 1997-98.
- They have scored in each of their last 22 home games in the knockout stages of the Champions League; the last team to stop them from scoring were Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in the 2010-11 semi-finals (0-2). However, Real have failed to win their last three knockout matches at the Bernabeu (drawn one, lost two); they have never gone four matches in a row without a victory.
- Zinedine Zidane has won all 12 Champions League ties he has been involved in as Real Madrid manager (nine two-legged ties and three finals). He currently holds three Champions League trophies as manager, a joint record alongside Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti.
- Manchester City are in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the seventh straight season, reaching at least the quarter-finals in three of the last four campaigns.
- They have been knocked out in each of their three previous Champions league two-legged ties against Spanish clubs: 1-4 on aggregate v Barcelona (2013-14 last 16), 1-3 v Barcelona (2014/15 last 16), 0-1 v Real Madrid (2015-16 semi-finals).
- Forward Raheem Sterling has scored 10 goals in his last 13 Champions League appearances – one more than in his previous 34 matches in the competition (nine). Only Lionel Messi (six) and Cristiano Ronaldo (five) scored more times than Sterling in last season’s knockout stages (four).
- Manager Pep Guardiola is facing Real Madrid in a Champions League knockout tie for the third time, with a third different club – he won 3-1 on aggregate with Barcelona in the 2010-11 semi-finals and he lost 5-0 on aggregate with Bayern Munich in the 2013-14 semi-finals.
Under Pep Guardiola, Manchester City have twice gone out in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, with one exit in the last 16