Champions League: Zidane and Guardiola, looking towards the quarters
Real Madrid and Manchester City will try this Tuesday to confirm their option taken in the first leg in order to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Dthey of the best coaches in the history of the Champions League return to the track on Tuesday (20:00 GMT): Zinédine Zidane against Atalanta to finally find the quarter-finals with Real Madrid, and Pep Guardiola with Manchester City to do so. hoist for the fourth time in a row.
Real Madrid, short winner 1-0 in Italy in the first leg, have no room for error in the face of an enthusiastic “Dea”, while the “Citizens” can approach their shock with a more serene mind, after their 2-0 success against Mönchengladbach in the first leg to Budapest.
In Madrid, the three Champions Leagues won by “Zizou” between 2016 and 2018 will not weigh heavily on Tuesday evening: the Marseille coach, eliminated twice in the round of 16 since his return to the bench of Real in March 2019 (against the ‘Ajax Amsterdam in 2019, against Manchester City in 2020), will have to maneuver to finally hoist his own towards the quarters … with a sizeable absentee.
If Zidane and the “Merengues” had managed to win the first leg 1-0 without Karim Benzema (groin injury), they will again be able to count on the flamboyant form of the French center-forward on Tuesday evening … but will have to be pass from Belgian Eden Hazard, still injured, this time in the right groin.
A weighty package for Real, struggling in La Liga (3rd to 7 points behind the leader, Atlético Madrid), eliminated from all the other cups, which therefore relies on the continental scene to reaffirm its status as a European juggernaut, after two disappointing campaigns.
Guardiola, warding off fate
Double winner of the best European competitions with Barça (in 2009 and 2011), Pep Guardiola approaches this round of 16 return with one goal in mind: to finally lead Manchester City to the first C1 final in its history.
Because since his departure from Catalonia, Guardiola has always struggled to repeat the brilliant course he had taken with Barcelona: at the head of Bayern (2013-2016), he failed three times in the semi-finals against the three biggest Spanish teams. : Real in 2014, Barça in 2015, and Atlético in 2016.
Then with Manchester City, he fell in the round of 16 against Monaco during his first campaign, then three times in the quarter-finals against Liverpool, Tottenham and Lyon, last year in Lisbon.
This time, Guardiola intends to go to the end, in confidence after the real show of strength of the Citizens since the start of the season, still engaged on all fronts.
“Four titles, it has never happened before and I do not think it will happen”, cooled Guardiola Monday in a pre-match press conference about his team which still has “everything to prove”, but doing however, qualification is its “sole objective”.
The Catalan will have to start by warding off the curse of the C1 by dismissing Tuesday in Budapest (because of health restrictions) a Borussia Mönchengladbach in full crisis, which has just recorded six consecutive defeats.