Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has said he “doesn’t worry about or fear” facing Manchester City and Pep Guardiola in the club’s Champions League clash.
Zidane and Guardiola will go head-to-head for the first time in a competitive match on Wednesday night in their Champions League round-of-16 first leg match at the Bernabeu.
“It’s just Madrid-Manchester City, it’s not Zidane-Guardiola,” the French coach said at his prematch news conference on Tuesday.
“People can talk, and have opinions, but it’s a game of football, it’s an attractive game. These are the games we want to play.”
Zidane, who has never lost a Champions League knockout tie as coach, winning the competition three years running in 2016, 2017 and 2018, went to visit Guardiola in 2015 to study his methods when the Catalan coach was in charge of Bayern Munich.
“We’re inspired by what he’s done. That motivates us more,” Zidane said. “We don’t worry about it and we don’t fear playing Guardiola and his teams. I was with him for a few days when he was at Bayern, talking about training and how he manages a team. He was very honest.”
Real Madrid go into the Manchester City game having lost their place at the top of La Liga, losing 1-0 at Levante on Saturday to drop two points behind Barcelona ahead of El Clasico this weekend.
The Levante game also saw Eden Hazard, signed for €100 million from Chelsea last summer, suffer a fracture in his right fibula. The Belgium international was making just his second start after almost three months out with a micro-fracture in his ankle.
Hazard is expected to miss at least another two months, and there has been some criticism of Madrid’s decision to choose a more conservative course of treatment for the initial injury, rather than opting for surgery.
“It’s not for me to say if he should have had an operation or not,” Zidane said.
“There are very qualified people who know about that. Eden is annoyed, he’s not happy, he wanted to return and give what we know he can give, he hasn’t been able to because he played two games and got injured again. It’s a difficult moment for him for sure.”
The Manchester City game is Real Madrid’s first at the Bernabeu since a 2-2 draw with struggling La Liga side Celta Vigo earlier this month.
“The fans come to see you win and they’re used to seeing Real Madrid win at home,” captain Sergio Ramos said.
“When there’s an uncomfortable game, maybe that unease is passed on to the players. We feel a debt to the fans, we want to send them home happy. Pressure is wearing this badge. It’s what being a Real Madrid player is all about.
“Football is about results. This is the moment of truth, in the Champions League and El Clasico we have an ideal opportunity. We have to keep working and the results will come with that mentality.”