Pain of last season pushed City to win – Guardiola

Manchester City’s stunning Champions League semi-final win over Real Madrid banished the “pain” of last year’s defeat, says manager Pep Guardiola.

City produced a relentless performance at Etihad Stadium to beat Real 4-0 – and 5-1 on aggregate.

At the same stage last year Real overturned a 4-3 defeat in the first leg with a remarkable late comeback in the second before winning the final.

“When the draw was Madrid, I said, ‘yeah, I want it’,” Guardiola said.

“I had the feeling these last days that we had a mix of calm and tension to play these type of games.

“After 10 or 15 minutes, I was feeling all the pain that we had [with] what happened last season.

“It was really tough, losing the way we lost and I think in the moment we had to swallow poison.

“But during one year we showed how special a group of players these are.”

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City, who have never won European football’s biggest competition, will play Inter Milan in the final in Istanbul on 10 June.

Their unbeaten run at home in Europe now stands at 26 games, stretching back to September 2018.

Forward Jack Grealish told BT Sport: “I don’t think a lot of teams would do that to Real Madrid, but when we are all together, and especially playing here, we feel unstoppable.

“I don’t know what it is, whether it is our fans or the pitch, we just feel unstoppable. Even in the league we feel no-one can beat us. It is unbelievable.”

Pep Guardiola celebrates with his players after Manchester City beat Real Madrid
Manchester City are into the Champions League final for the second time, after they lost to Chelsea in 2021

‘Pep text me and said Man City would win’

City were utterly dominant from the first minute against Real and only two superb saves by Thibaut Courtois to deny Erling Haaland prevented them from taking the lead earlier than when Bernardo Silva struck in the 23rd minute.

From then on, it felt only a question of how much City would win by and Silva made it 2-0 in the 37th minute before second-half strikes by Manuel Akanji and Julian Alvarez wrapped up an emphatic win.

BT Sport pundit and former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand said: “Pep text me, ‘Believe me, we beat them two years ago; we will beat them again’. That was two or three hours before the game. That is pure confidence.

“It was like they were stamping on their throat, positioning where they wanted them and then bang, goal.

“That man is an absolute genius. They have destroyed, battered, pulverised a giant of European football and have done it at a canter, with ease, with loads in the tank, without even sweating.”

Former Blackburn and Chelsea striker Chris Sutton told BBC Radio 5 Live: “They displayed real composure, authority and control.

“The Champions League is the one Pep Guardiola and Manchester City want. If they perform anywhere like this in the final, you can only see one winner.”

Is the Treble on?

City could win two trophies before the Champions League final.

A win at home to Chelsea on Sunday will seal the Premier League title, and they face United – the only Premier League side to win the Treble – in the FA Cup final at Wembley on 3 June.

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen told BT Sport: “Everybody is playing at the top level. They have a manager who is a genius. I cannot see anything else than them winning all three trophies.”

Ex-Newcastle and City goalkeeper Shay Given said: “The Treble is getting ever closer. This was the biggest hurdle to get over.”

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