Unstoppable Manchester City?
Forward Jack Grealish certainly thinks they have, especially at home, and it’s hard to argue against it after they brushed aside Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday to seal their place in the Champions League final.
Pep Guardiola’s side put in an incredible performance in won 4-0 against the reigning European champions and improve 5-1 on aggregate to make a meeting with the Italians Inter Milan in Istanbul on 10 June.
It extended their unbeaten run at home in Europe to 26 games – until September 2018 – and Grealish told BT Sport: “I don’t think many teams can do that to Real Madrid but if we are all together, and especially. playing here [at Etihad Stadium]we feel unstoppable.
“I don’t know what it is, whether it’s our fans or the pitch, we just feel unstoppable, even in the league we feel like nobody can beat us. It’s unbelievable.”
Pain of last year’s semi-final defeat released – Guardiola
Last year, Real’s players celebrated a semi-final win at City’s expense, overturning a 4-3 first leg loss to win the second leg 3-1 in Madrid.
It was a defeat that City boss Guardiola said his players had to deal with until the “pain” was finally lifted on Wednesday night.
“I have a feeling that a year has passed in our stomach – what happened last season [losing to Real Madrid]”said the Spaniard after City reached the Champions League final for the second time.
“I think now everything is gone with what we had, it was very painful last season.
“But over the course of a year we’ve shown what a special group of players this is.”
‘Pep texted me and said we’re going to beat them’
City were completely dominant from the first minute against Real and only two good saves from Thibaut Courtois to deny Erling Haaland denied them the lead earlier than Bernardo Silva’s strike in the 23rd minute.
From then on, it was a question of how much City would win and Silva made it 2-0 in the 37th minute before second-half strikes from Manuel Akanji and Julian Alvarez wrapped up a tight victory.
Guardiola said he only felt calm from his players ahead of the game and former Manchester United captain and BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand revealed the City boss expressed confidence his team would win the hours before starting.
“Pep text me ‘believe me, we beat them two years ago, we will beat them again’, that was two or three hours before the game, that is pure confidence,” said Ferdinand.
“It’s like they’re shoved down their throats, positioned where they want them and then bang, aim.”
He added: “That man is an absolute genius. They destroyed, battered, pulverized a giant of European football and did it at a canter, with ease, with tank loads, without even breaking a sweat .”
Former Blackburn and Chelsea striker Chris Sutton has no doubt that if City can repeat this performance against Inter Milan then they will be crowned Champions League winners.
“They showed real calm, authority and control,” he said live on BBC Radio 5.
“The Champions League is what Pep Guardiola and Manchester City want. If they perform anywhere like this in the final, you will only see one winner. One more step is needed.”
Is there a Treble?
City can secure two trophies ahead of next month’s Champions League final on Saturday, 10 June.
Victory against Chelsea on Sunday will seal the Premier League title while they are also in the FA Cup final, where they face Manchester United.
The Red Devils are the only Premier League team to win the Treble but City are backed to become only the second team to achieve the feat.
Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen told BT Sport: “Everyone is playing at a high level, they have a manager who is a genius.
Ex-Newcastle and Manchester City goalkeeper Shay Given added: “The Treble is getting closer. For me, it’s the biggest hurdle to overcome.”
When is the Champions League final?
City play Inter in Istanbul on 10 June at 20:00 BST.