Real Madrid waging intimidation war on Man City as 14-time European champions eye revenge

Real Madrid are hoping their fans can create a cauldron of noise in an attempt to intimidate Manchester City

Real Madrid are waging an intimidation campaign against Manchester City as they seek revenge for last season’s Champions League evisceration by Pep Guardiola’s side.

The 14-time European Cup winners plan to shut the revamped Santiago Bernabéu Stadium’s new retractable roof in a bid to ramp up an already white-hot atmosphere in the first leg of their quarter-final clash.

Real fans are also being urged to arrive en masse in white and help turn the 85,000 capacity stadium into a bearpit that they hope will unnerve City, the reigning European champions, as they seek to atone for their 4-0 thumping at the Etihad in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final exit.

Carlo Ancelotti claimed Real played “without courage and personality” that night but warned City – who beat Inter Milan in the final – would face a completely different side on Tuesday evening as he prepares to take charge of a record 200th game in the competition.

Uefa must approve Real’s request to close the roof in consultation with referee François Letexier and it is due to be formally decided on at a technical committee meeting on Tuesday morning.

City are understood to be aware of Real’s wish but would be powerless to prevent the roof from being kept open if Uefa sanction the move.

As well as the possibility of the roof being shut, Real’s players have been busy publicising a fan-led movement demanding supporters wear white to the game after a banner was unfurled in the Grada Fans’ south stand against Osasuna last month signalling the call to arms. “Wear white and support your team,” Real Madrid winger Vinicius Junior said on Instagram.

Antonio Rüdiger, the Real defender, underlined just how fired up his side are by insisting he would treat his battle with Erling Haaland as a “personal” duel.

Antonio Rüdiger and Erling Haaland
Antonio Rüdiger managed to negate the threat of Erling Haaland at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium last year - Getty Images/Thomas Coex

Rüdiger nullified Haaland’s threat in the 1-1 first leg draw at the Bernabéu last year – and at one point was seen thrusting his head under the Norway striker’s armpit – only to be dropped for the game at the Etihad. But he is ready to repeat his dark arts tactics again.

“I saw the photos and videos, there were a lot,” Rüdiger said. “I don’t plan these things. It’s just a feeling. Of course I can tell you it’s about the team. I will take that duel as personal. It’s me as a defensive player against a super striker. I don’t plan, it’s just in the moment.

“We all did a great job by keeping Haaland quiet that evening. Haaland didn’t get much of the ball. The second game, the coach [Ancelotti] didn’t apologise [for dropping me] and he didn’t need to. He had an idea and I had to accept it although it was hard to accept. Now for this game the plan will be the same as last year – to try to control the dangerous players.”

Real have four players – Vinicius Junior, Jude Bellingham, Eduardo Camavinga and Aurélien Tchouaméni – who are a booking away from missing the second leg.

Guardiola will be without key defenders Kyle Walker and Nathan Aké while there are doubts over Josko Gvardiol which could create problems at left-back.

Guardiola has warned that it will be “impossible” to beat Real in the same way as they did last season but has urged his players to be brave. “We cannot come here just to control the game, we have to hurt them, to punish them, to try to score goals,” the City manager said.

Rodri says City, who imploded against Real in the semi-final second leg in 2022, are experienced enough in Europe now not to be cowed and that winning the competition last season has given them even greater confidence.

“It gives you a little bit more composure, serenity on the pitch and you learn, we learn from the past,” he said. “When we lose and when we win, we’ve had the experience and we are more mature than when we first played. When we face this team, especially here at home, we know how we have to fight them and play against them. It is something we are learning from the past.

Team details (probable)

Real Madrid (4-2-2-2): Lunin; Carvajal, Rüdiger, Tchouaméni, Mendy; Camavinga, Kroos; Valverde, Bellingham; Rodrygo, Vinicius.
Manchester City (4-1-4-1): Ederson; Akanji, Stones, Dias, Gvardiol; Rodri; Foden, Bernardo, De Bruyne, Grealish; Haaland.
Referee: François Letexier (France).

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