Manchester City midfielder Rodri is optimistic about their chances in the upcoming rematch against Real Madrid in the Champions League, citing their hunger for revenge after last season’s semi-final heartbreak.
Despite City’s two-goal lead in the second leg at the Bernabéu, they conceded twice in the 90th minute and lost in extra time. While manager Pep Guardiola urged his team to keep their cool and not focus on revenge, Rodri emphasized the motivational aspect of the previous meeting, speaking about it at the press conference on Monday night. City has won 17 out of their last 20 matches in all competitions, drawing the other three.
“We will have the chance for revenge,” the midfielder said. “We have the philosophy that you can learn from past experiences. We did 180 minutes of brilliance but it wasn’t enough. In the last minutes in that second leg … we didn’t handle it the right way.
“You have to kill when you can. We respect them [Madrid] – the king of this competition – but we have weapons. We are in a great moment and we are afraid of nothing. We are here to fight again and of course, we have the hunger for revenge.”
Rodri acknowledged that he did not need to watch a replay of last season’s second leg as it was still fresh in his memory. Similarly, Guardiola has analyzed both legs of the tie but refrained from making any provocative statements. While Guardiola spoke about the danger posed by Real Madrid’s Vinícius Júnior, who appears to make an impact every time he gets the ball.
Guardiola said: “I know the demand from my club to win the Champions League. I had the feeling when I arrived. They didn’t ask me but I know the feeling that after the first Premier League, the target was the Champions League. When you don’t have one trophy you want it. It’s nice, in a good way.
“The way we played last season [against Madrid] was really good in both games but it was not enough. We are not here for revenge, it is just another opportunity. As much as we are here, one day we will get it. One day we will reach the final and win it.”
Carlo Ancelotti, the Madrid manager, acknowledged Erling Haaland’s impressive form and his ability to provide a more direct approach for Manchester City. The tactic of playing with a back three and pushing John Stones forward into midfield alongside Rodri was also discussed, with a belief among those in Madrid that it was a result of Haaland’s arrival.
“[Haaland] is a very dangerous player,” Ancelotti said. “But only talking about him means not talking about a very complete team. We are not thinking about a game to stop him but to stop a team that seems unstoppable. What I can say is that City is a more complete team compared to last year.
“He [Guardiola] had Gabriel Jesus last year, who was dangerous but had different qualities to Haaland. Maybe they are a little more direct, they use a bit more the long ball. Then there is [Kevin] De Bruyne behind him so they can use the long ball and the second ball. But that doesn’t mean they have changed style.”
Rodri said: “[Haaland] fits in so well and as a team we are getting the best moments from him, understanding each other. We are seeing a wider vision from him, it’s not just scoring. We’ve changed [tactically] from how we played last season.”
During the Copa del Rey final on Saturday, the house of Rodrygo, the Real Madrid winger who scored the late goals to draw Madrid level in the second leg last season, was burgled. Rodrygo scored both goals in Madrid’s 2-1 victory against Osasuna.