Pablo Zabaleta believes keeping a clean sheet in the home leg of Manchester City’s Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid could be crucial, while Raheem Sterling wants his side to put on a show for the world to see.
City’s stuttering Premier League campaign stands in contrast to their impressive progress in Europe, where Manuel Pellegrini has guided his men to within touching distance of the final in his farewell campaign.
It is Zinedine Zidane’s Madrid who now stand in their way after Friday’s draw in Nyon and Zabaleta is wary of taking on such decorated opposition.
“Real Madrid is one of those teams who have been playing in [the Champions League] for so many years,” he said in an interview posted on the club’s Twitter account.
“They won the most trophies in the Champions League. It’s going to be really exciting so I’m looking forward to it.
“We need the same support from the fans like in the last game. I think they’ve been great at the Etihad, so especially playing the first game at home it means we have to get a good result, try to play well and not concede goals, because that will be key for the second leg.”
Madrid progressed past Wolfsburg courtesy of Cristiano Ronaldo’s second-leg hat-trick, but Kevin De Bruyne – who scored in both matches of City’s 3-2 aggregate triumph over Paris Saint-Germain – warned they are far from a one-man team.
“I don’t think there was a possibility to have an easy team,” he said. “It’s a nice draw. I don’t think Real is only Ronaldo, he’s obviously the main man over there, but we’ll see what happens.”
Sterling, meanwhile, hopes the two games will be a showcase for City ahead of Pep Guardiola’s arrival for the next campaign.
He said: “It’s time to really show the world what we can do and go out there and give a good performance against Real Madrid.”