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Sky Blue News: Pep Presser, Aké Out, City Solutions, and More...

Matchday headlines ahead of the UCL Semifinal first leg.

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Manchester City FC Training Session And Press Conference Photo by Alvaro Medranda/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Manchester City are in Spain to take La Liga giants Real Madrid in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal rematch. The Manc Blues are eager to get this underway as they seek to return to the UCL final and best the squad that knocked them out at this stage last season. Sky Blue News has all the latest to get you set for a monster match.


After confirming that his talismanic midfielder Luka Modric has recovered from a recent injury and will play on Tuesday, Ancelotti was asked about the threats City posed.

In particular, the Italian believes the addition of Erling Haaland, the Champions League’s leading scorer so far this campaign, has taken our game to a new level.

He said: “Haaland is a very dangerous player. Not just his goals but he’s a constant threat. It’s a very complete team, they can defend and attack.

“They have a very clear idea how they want to play football. It’s not just about stopping Haaland, it’s about stopping a team who at times have been unstoppable but we will have our chances. It’s going to be a competitive contest.

“They were a very dangerous team last season but Haaland brings something different. They can play more direct if needed. De Bruyne plays in behind Haaland and can bring the ball down.

Pep Talk:“We arrive here with encouragement.” - Saul Garcia - Bitter and Blue

Manchester City head to Madrid as the semi final of the UCL has arrived. Pep Guardiola was in fine form today ahead of that match. He spoke about expectations, the match and much more!

Let’s jump in-

Pep on Madrid

“It was tough, obviously, but at the end we make an exceptional game in Manchester. Really good here, not exceptional, but it was not enough. We congratulate them and accept it...”

“One day we will reach the #UCL final and we will win it. We come here to do it this season, but we came here to do it last season...”

“We arrive here with encouragement. The way we play was really good. We’re not here for revenge, just another opportunity...”

Manchester City vs Real Madrid – City have the chance for redemption - Adam Marrett - Man City Square

In the Champions League knockout rounds so far Real Madrid have disposed of Chelsea 4 nil on aggregate in the Quarter Final, and before that a 6-2 aggregate win over Liverpool in the Round of 16.

Madrid come into the Semi Final tie against Manchester City with no fear of English opposition as the previous rounds results suggest.

Leading into the first leg of the Semi Final tie at the Bernabeu, Real Madrid will enter the game without Eder Militao in defence.

The Brazilian defender having to serve a one match ban for the accumulation of yellow cards. There are also injury clouds hanging over Ferland Mendy, the left back having been out for over a month or so now. But from all recent reports Modric should be available for the first leg.

Another key player missing from the Semi Final clash a year ago is Casemiro who has since left Real Madrid for a certain club who shall remain nameless.

Manchester City’s Nathan Ake ruled out of Real Madrid Champions League tie - Oliver Thomas - Sports Mole

The Dutch defender was absent from team training on Monday morning and Man City have since confirmed that he will not travel with Guardiola’s 21-man squad to the Spanish capital.

Kyle Walker came on as Ake’s replacement against Leeds and could deputise again on Tuesday against Real Madrid, joining Ruben Dias and Manuel Akanji in a back three, while John Stones continues in his hybrid midfield role.

Aymeric Laporte, a left-footed defender like Ake, is also an option for Guardiola, while 18-year-old Rico Lewis, who played at left-back for the final half-hour against Leeds, and Sergio Gomez are two more defenders in contention to feature.

On a positive note, Cole Palmer has been selected in Guardiola’s 21-man squad after missing the last three Premier League games with an ankle problem.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, will be without Eder Militao (suspended) and Dani Ceballos (quadriceps), while Ferland Mendy has taken part in team training following a lengthy spell out with a calf issue but has not been selected in Carlo Ancelotti’s 22-man squad.

Manchester City set to open talks with £25 million-rated midfielder over fresh deal - Freddie Pye - City Xtra

McAtee – who largely operates as an advanced midfielder – shone during the second-half of the season, contributing nine goals and four assists in 43 appearances across all competitions, averaging a goal or assist ever 158.3 minutes in the Championship.

Such performances in a difficult competition have earned himself the highest of regards within the Etihad Stadium, and those at the club are now seeking to reward McAtee with a fresh contract in the coming weeks and months.

That is according to the Mail’s Simon Jones, who reports that Manchester City are now ready to open talks over a new contract for James McAtee – who is understood to be valued at around £25 million.

While there is widespread interest in one of England’s most exciting young talents from across the Premier League, it is reported that McAtee primarily wants to ‘stake a claim for a first team place’ at City, and has been ‘encouraged’ by Pep Guardiola’s praise for his performances.

Not only is the Salford-born playmaker ‘keen to sign’ a new deal with the Premier League champions, but the Mail also state that he is ‘determined to prove himself worthy of a place’ alongside Pep Guardiola’s current stars – regardless of who they sign this summer.

Man City have new solutions to stop the biggest Real Madrid threat - Simon Bajkowski - Manchester Evening News

If Manchester City are going to succeed in this tie, they will almost certainly have to keep Vinicius Junior quiet. The Brazilian forward was dangerous last season but has taken his game to a new level since, showing superb quality to go with the impressive character to keep going in the face of regular racist abuse from La Liga crowds.

Fortunately for City, Pep Guardiola feels like his team’s biggest improvement this year has been at the back and a look at the candidates to stop Vinicius would support that theory. Amid the crazy end to their semi-final tie last season, it should be remembered that injuries and form left a 35-year-old Fernandinho playing right-back.

City are in a better space with injuries, meaning that they have Kyle Walker and John Stones available as options where they didn’t last year. Add in surprise summer signing Manu Akanji and even with Nathan Ake injured the Blues have never had better choices to try to stop the best attackers in the game.

And finally... A look at the best managers of this century so far.

Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti and the best managers of the 21st century - ranked - Richard Martin - Goal

As Real Madrid and Manchester City meet in the Champions League semi-finals, where do their coaches rank among the best since the year 2000?

Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola are very different personalities, but one thing they share is a knack for winning football matches, and the biggest ones at that. Between them, the Catalan and the Italian have won four Champions Leagues, 15 league titles and 13 domestic cups.

They will square up against each other again in Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg between Real Madrid and Manchester City. Ancelotti is three matches away from becoming only the second manager to retain the trophy in the Champions League era, while Guardiola is desperate to get his hands on Europe’s biggest prize for the first time in 12 years.

But where do these two titans of modern coaching rank among the best managers in the 21st century?

There you have it. Stay with Bitter and Blue all day as we build to the Match at the Santiago Bernabeu. Follow @BitterandBlue1 on Twitter for all the latest updates and reactions. Sky Blue News returns tomorrow with more headlines.