Thierry Henry has warned Manchester City not to be “hypnotised” by Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo in their Champions League semi-final.
City host Madrid in Tuesday’s first leg at the Etihad Stadium, which will mark the Premier League club’s first semi-final appearance in the Champions League.
Madrid’s presence in the final four alone is down to the heroics of Ronaldo, who scored a second-leg hat-trick in his team’s quarter-final against Wolfsburg, who lost 3-2 on aggregate, having won 2-0 in Germany.
And while Ronaldo proved his match-winning capabilities once again on the big stage, former Arsenal and France international forward Henry said City cannot afford to focus all their energies on the Portuguese star.
“Manchester City can do everything in their power to make sure Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t get an inch in the Champions League semi-final,” Henry wrote in his column in the Sun.
“But if he suddenly decides to smash one into the top corner from 40 yards, there is nothing any defender can do about it except to say ‘well done’.
“Because that is what Ronaldo is always capable of — and a reason why he has scored an incredible 360 goals in seven seasons for Real Madrid.”
Henry said that while City must respect Ronaldo – who remains under a slight injury cloud – they must also be aware of the threat and balance provided by Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.
“City can’t afford to be hypnotised by one guy when the two sides clash on Tuesday. Madrid have far too much quality in every position,” Henry continued.
“There is no doubt that Ronaldo is a better player when he is alongside Karim Benzema, who provides Madrid with the perfect attacking balance along with Gareth Bale.”
Henry credited Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane – a former France international team-mate – for helping his team to find a new level following the sacking of Rafael Benitez.
“The whole team has gone up a level since Zinedine Zidane replaced Rafa Benitez as coach in January and Real are a much scarier proposition now,” he said.
“Zizou was given instant respect from the crowd and within the dressing room because of everything he had done for the club as a player.”