Carlo Ancelotti said his Real Madrid side must stop Manchester City’s whole team and not just striker Erling Haaland when they meet in the Champions League semifinals today.
The reigning 14-time record champions host Pep Guardiola’s hungry visitors in the first leg who are spearheaded by Norwegian hitman Haaland, who boasts 51 goals in 45 games across all competitions.
The 22-year-old has notched 12 of those in eight Champions League matches, but Ancelotti said his plan was to try and foil a City side that looks “unstoppable” as a whole.
“Obviously Haaland is a very dangerous player. He’s showing impressive qualities, above all in goalscoring. He’s a threat obviously,” Ancelotti told a news conference yesterday.
“Just talking about Haaland means not talking about a complete team that plays good football, defends well, attacks, that has ideas.
“We’re not setting up for a game to stop Haaland, but to stop a team that seems unstoppable, but I think we can have chances to have an equal game, one that we can win.”
City have been foiled time and time again in their quest to win the Champions League, but Haaland’s lethal edge gives them a strong chance of beating Madrid and reaching the final.
Ancelotti said he thought Manchester City have more avenues to cause danger with Haaland in the side.
“It’s a more complete team than last year. They had a very good forward in Gabriel Jesus, but he has different characteristics to Haaland,” continued the Italian coach.
“Today, they can take advantage more of long balls, because they have a very tall striker, and behind him is (Kevin) De Bruyne, so they can win balls in the air.
“They have not changed their style, they are very well organised at the back and a team that handles the ball very well.”
Former Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney recently suggested City would “blow away” Madrid in the tie, a comment which Los Blancos midfielder Toni Kroos laughed off.
Madrid beat Manchester City in last season’s semifinals despite losing in the first leg, and the German was quick to recall it.
“It was the same a year ago, no? That Madrid were out, and we did it,” Kroos told reporters.
“I remember words from last year, not Rooney’s – who is a guy I like a lot, apart from what he said – but it doesn’t affect us.
“It doesn’t motivate us more either, because it’s impossible to be more motivated than we are.”