Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini insists he is not motivated by revenge as his side prepare to face European heavyweights Read Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final clash tomorrow.
Despite guiding Real to their then-record La Liga points tally, Pellegrini was axed at the end of the 2009/10 campaign, his solitary season in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu, after failing to win the title and guide Los Blancos beyond the Champions League last 16.
Tuesday evening’s tussle is City’s first ever Champions League semi-final tie, having been knocked out by Barcelona at the last-16 stage in each of the past two seasons. In comparison, 10-time winners Real have reached the last four on 26 previous occasions.
The showdown with Real also represents ex-Villarreal and Malaga manager Pellegrini’s biggest clash against his former employers since his sacking six years ago, although the 62-year-old is adamant he bears no grudges.
“I don’t think about the past,” said Pellegrini. “My mind is totally focused on trying to get as far as we can in the league and I am thinking about playing the 180 minutes against Real Madrid.
“It’s important to reach this final as it reflects the work we have been doing for three years. We won’t just try to defend to reach the final. I have always tried to have a team which plays good football, play well. The way we do it is just as important.”
Pellegrini has confirmed that Yaya Toure is set to miss the first leg after suffering a hamstring injury against Stoke on Saturday, while fellow midfielder Samir Nasri was not included in City’s Champions League squad for the knockout stages.
The Chilean has called on the players which take the field against Real to resist getting caught up in the emotion of the occasion. City have had a player sent off in three of their four post-group matches in the competition.
“We need a hot heart and a cold mind,” added Pellegrini. “Against Barcelona we played with one player less both times. It’s very difficult with 10 players. We need our emotions under control.
“It’s very important to enjoy the semi-final as it’s not an achievement we do every year. The players know that. It’s important not to be comfortable because we’re at this stage. Everyone wants to continue, to play the final. We’ll see a team that will play to win.”
Skipper Vincent Kompany has declared himself 100 per cent to face Real after returning from his latest calf injury against Newcastle last week, and has urged his City team-mates to prove they have come of age in European football.
“It’s massive,” he said. “I have been through a very long process with this team. It’s really good to be able to measure yourself against a team like Real Madrid and see how far you have got after so many years.
“It’s a hard battle to get to this stage and, as much as there is a lot riding on this game, what everyone wishes within the club is that we are able to show how good we are.”