(Reuters) - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has issued a rallying cry to his players to show character and fight to the very end in their Champions League last-16 tie against Real Madrid.
City, who have not progressed beyond the semis-finals of Europe’s elite club competition, have been banned by UEFA for the next two seasons following an investigation into alleged breaches of Financial Fair Play rules.
They face a daunting task against the 13-times champions, who they take on in the first leg in Madrid on Wednesday.
“We have to show our personality. I know that my players, myself, all the club want to fight until the end for this title,” Guardiola told reporters following Saturday’s 1-0 Premier League win over Leicester City.
“It’s the real test. The kings of this competition against one team who aren’t used to playing these kind of games much, as our best performance was one semi-final.
“But if you want to do that (win the title) you have to face these teams sooner or later... you have to beat Madrid, you have to beat Barcelona, you have to beat Bayern Munich. You have to beat the big, big teams.
“If we’re able to do it we’ll be so happy. If not then next season... well, next season I don’t know but when we are able to play we are going to come back.”
City, who plan to appeal their transfer ban, have not beaten Madrid in four previous meetings in the competition.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore