Jack Grealish says Manchester City will feel “unstoppable” when they host Real Madrid in a well-rounded second leg of their Champions League semi-final next Wednesday.
Kevin de Bruyne’s second-half effort canceled out Vinicius Jr’s opener for 14-time winners Real to win City draw 1-1 at the Bernabeu on Tuesday.
Real scored twice in added time before triumphing in spectacular fashion against City in Spain at the same stadium last season
“We have learned so much since last year,” Grealish told BT Sport.
“We have a new team this year, different players. It was a year ago. We have the perfect balance between experience and world class youngsters. I have never felt so confident on the pitch with the players around me.”
City were two goals clear in aggregate in the 90th minute of their second leg against Real last season but fell apart in remarkable fashion.
Rodrygo scored twice in added time and Karim Benzema then converted a penalty in extra time to see the Spanish side advance 6-5 on aggregate.
However, with this year’s tie set to conclude on City’s home patch, where they have won 14 consecutive games by a combined score of 49-7, the odds look firmly stacked in favor of Pep’s side. Guardiola chasing the triples.
“At the Etihad we feel unstoppable,” added the City striker Grealish.
“We came here to try to win, but it shows our character to score a goal in a place like this. In the end, I think it was a fair result. They had their chances, we had them. some.”
“We are good enough to win the finals”
In the opposing camp, however, Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois claims the defending champions cannot be ignored.
They have already convincingly beaten Liverpool and Chelsea away from home in this season’s competition.
“Next week will be like a final, and we are good enough to win finals,” said the Belgian. “I hope we can mentalize it like that even if it’s at City and it will be difficult for us.”
City’s previous European knockout matches ended in 1-1 away draws in the first leg saw them both advance to the next round.
Meanwhile, Real have advanced just two of their nine Champions League knockout ties by failing to win the first leg at home – both were against Manchester United (1999-00 and 2012-13).
“Real Madrid have nothing to lose”
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, former Marseille and England winger Chris Waddle said he struggled to identify a clear favourite.
“It’s a positive result for Man City. But is it a great result? Will Real Madrid enjoy going to the Etihad without losing anything?” Waddle said.
“Manchester City controlled a lot of this game. I think they could have been a bit more positive in the final third and I think they could have gotten a better result than this.
“Real Madrid know how to handle games and it has to be said that some of their football was excellent at times.”
Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon added: “I think Pep Guardiola will be delighted with the result and the performance. Everyone expects City to win these games 2-0 and 3-0, but it’s just not the reality because they are playing against a top team.”
‘Looks like advantage City’ – your point of view
With pundits expecting a close encounter when Madrid travel to Manchester on Wednesday, May 17 (8:00pm BST), the social reaction is definitely leaning towards the home side:
Paul: Man City didn’t have many excuses for not winning the Champions League even before tonight, but now that they have a draw against Real Madrid, they have no excuses and should definitely win it. Surely they can’t bottle it this time…
Chamshad: Looks like it’s an advantage for City in Etihad. But don’t forget what happened last season in 10 minutes.
Amrul: How is this a good result for City when there are no away goals? All Real Madrid have to do is play against or hang on for a 0-0 and a lottery of a penalty shootout.
Max: Manchester City have NEVER lost a European match after drawing the first leg (won 8 out of 8).