Madrid, Feb 25 (IANS) Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane warmly praised Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola in his press conference ahead of the first leg of the Champions League tie between the two sides on Wednesday night.
Guardiola’s past with FC Barcelona has always meant that he has been viewed as ‘public enemy number one’ by Real Madrid fans, but Zidane was quick to point out that the game had nothing to do with his side’s traditional rival.
“It is a Real Madrid-Manchester City game, it’s not Guardiola against Zidane,” he said, adding “it is a game of football and that is what people want to see.”
The Madrid coach was asked why many consider Guardiola is the best coach in the world and replied that his opposite number had “always shown that he is: first at Barcelona, then at Bayern Munich and then at Manchester City… That’s my opinion. Others may think there are better coaches and there are a lot of coaches, but I think he’s the best,” he replied.
Zidane explained that in 2015 he had even spent time in Munich watching Guardiola at work.
“We are inspired by what he did and that is what motivates us. I was with him several days when he was at Bayern, we spoke about training sessions and how he manages the team and he was very honest,” he explained.
Manchester City travels to Madrid after receiving a two-year ban from UEFA for financial irregularities, meaning that unless the club wins an appeal this will be their last chance in the competition until 2022.
Zidane said he didn’t know whether that circumstance would make City more dangerous or not, but warned, the reigning Premier League Champions are “a very good team and they have shown that and they are coming here to play their game. We have to play well and give everything… It is an attractive game, I am certain about that,” commented the Real Madrid coach.