Real showdown not personal for Pellegrini
Manuel Pellegrini has slammed suggestions he will be motivated by revenge when Manchester City face his former club Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals.
Pellegrini’s side were handed a daunting showdown with Real in Friday’s draw after defeating Paris Saint Germain on Tuesday to reach the last four of Europe’s elite club competition for the first time.
City will host the 10-time European champions in the first leg on April 26 before heading to the Bernabeu for the return a week later.
Pellegrini was sacked by Real in 2010 after just one season and replaced by Jose Mourinho following early elimination from the Champions League and the disappointment of losing out on the La Liga title to Barcelona.
However, on Friday the 62-year-old insisted there will be no desire for retribution against his former employers, who are looking to win the tournament for the second time in the last three years.
“No, it is not an extra motivation. Always the motivation is to play the semi-final of the Champions League,” said Pellegrini, who will be replaced as City boss by Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola at the end of the season.
“It is a difficult draw. It didn’t matter which of the three teams we had to play, the three were difficult.
“I think the options to continue are the same for the teams and we will expect to do a very good game against a big team.”
Real Madrid, now managed by France legend Zinedine Zidane, are within four points of La Liga leaders Barcelona, whom they beat 2-1 in the Nou Camp a fortnight ago.
But Pellegrini knows from first-hand experience just how much pressure there is to deliver sustained success in Madrid.
“I think always for a big team it is important to arrive to the last stage of the Champions League and try to win it, but also not to leave out their domestic games,” he said.
“Real Madrid know every year they must win titles and be involved in all the competitions.
“In this moment I think they are playing the semi-final of the Champions League and they still have options in the Spanish league, so as always it is a team that is involved in all.”