Carlo Ancelotti has challenged his Real Madrid team to beat an “unstoppable” Manchester City side when the Champions League heavyweights collide in the semi-finals on Tuesday.
Treble-chasing City have hit top form in the run-in and head to the Spanish capital with 15 wins and a draw from their last 16 games.
Top scorer Erling Haaland has sent records tumbling with 51 goals in 45 appearances, including 12 in nine in the Champions League.
Real Madrid mounted an improbable comeback to dump City out at this stage last year, however, and head coach Ancelotti believes they can upset the odds again.
“The plan is to play a complete match, try to get the best of what we have on a physical, motivational and technical level,” he said.
“Bearing in mind that the decisive game will be the second leg, we want to take a small lead. We will try to do it. It is a game that demands a lot from everyone. When you reach a semi-final in a competition like this, it’s normal.
“He is a very dangerous player, but talking only about Haaland means not talking about a very complete team, who defend well, who attack and who have ideas.
“We are not planning a game to stop Haaland, but to stop a team that seems unstoppable. I think we can have options to have a match that is even, competitive and that we can win.”
Real Madrid go into the tie fresh from winning the Copa del Rey, their third trophy this term after the Club World Cup and European Super Cup.
Influential midfielder Luka Modric started on the bench in Saturday’s final with Osasuna but Ancelotti confirmed that he would return to the XI for the visit of City.
Pep Guardiola rung the changes as City beat Leeds United 2-1 at the weekend but could recall Jack Grealish, Rodri, John Stones and Ruben Dias in Madrid.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager leads Ancelotti 5-3 in their eight previous meetings, but the Italian has prevailed in their two previous knockout ties.
On tonight’s clash being an act of revenge for last year’s exit, Guardiola said: “We are not here for revenge.
“It is another opportunity. One day we will get it, we will get to the final and win it. It didn’t happen last season as we played Real Madrid and in this competition they know exactly what they have to do.
“Last season it was [like] the end of the world but here we are again.”