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Negredo: City v Real Madrid clash 'unmissable'

Negredo: City v Real Madrid clash 'unmissable'
Alvaro Negredo hailed City’s Champions League clash against Real Madrid as “one of the greatest games” in modern-day football.

Born in Spain’s capital, Negredo sported the iconic white of his hometown club before making the move to Manchester to join Manuel Pellegrini’s City in the summer of 2013.

The forward, affectionately known as ‘the Beast’, spent two years in England, lifting the 2013/14 Premier League and League Cup trophies and scoring 23 goals in 49 appearances, including two hat-tricks.

As the anticipation builds ahead of Friday’s eagerly-awaited European last 16 second leg encounter, Negredo is relishing the prospect of two of his former sides locking horns once again, but warns that under the circumstances, City should not rest upon our 2-1 first leg lead.

“I think that this is the most atypical season of all,” he reflected.

“I think it can be a very different game because of the inconsistencies that all the teams have gone through and right now, I can't tell you a favourite either because there isn't one.

“We do not know how teams will react. Both City and Real Madrid have finished the league recently and the players have taken some days off – and we don’t know how will they return.

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“PSG have been playing cup matches, Bayern finished the Bundesliga a month ago... They do not have the same rhythm as the rest of the players because they have spent more time on vacation or training individually or in small groups, which in the end is not the same as training together.

“I can't say which team is favourite (to win the tournament) now because I think that they all start from the same base.

“City have that advantage from the first leg, which is important, but also Real Madrid is a very complicated team to play against and City will need to be very focused if they want to go through.

“Madrid have been very effective. There have been games that have been won by a little advantage of 1-0 but in the end, that is what Real Madrid are: a team that can always beat you, even if they don’t play well.

“They are in a good run right now. They will be positive. I am not going to say they are the favourite because City are also at a very good level but it is true that seeing how Real Madrid came out after the break in La Liga, City must be very careful.

“With the players they have – their quality – and for the style of Manchester City, this is one of the greatest football games that nowadays can happen – definitely one not to miss!”

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Negredo added he has been impressed with the attacking prowess of both sides – particularly the quality of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Karim Benzema – in addition to defensive compatriot Eric Garcia’s breakthrough.

“Both De Bruyne and Sterling have an unquestionable quality,” he praised.

“Both have great offensive potential – they are very fast, especially Kevin who also has fantastic ball control and dribbling ability.

“He has many qualities that, as Benzema does, make teammates play very quickly.

“He knows where each player is at every moment and for the forwards, from my experience, it is a blessing. It is what we all want to have behind us.

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“Sterling is one of those who wants to keep Kevin close because he knows how to filter passes for those movements he does especially well.

“In my opinion, Benzema is one of the forwards of the moment. He is not the typical attacking player who can only score – he also makes the team play which is very important.

“A player like him it is not easy to find. There are forwards that you know are waiting for you in the area – that need crosses – but Benzema is a player who makes it very easy for you to play with him.

“For me, he is one of the most equipped forwards at the moment.


                        Negredo: City v Real Madrid clash 'unmissable'

“City’s defence will have to be very alert but Madrid’s will also. Both sides have very fast players who do a lot of damage on the counter. Sterling, for example, is one of those who can take advantage of it.

“City have one or two top players in each position. Eric Garcia has already shown with the quality he has that it looks like he has adapted very well. He has done very well when given the opportunity.

“Like I have said before, it will be a precious match to watch because both team have a lot to fight for.”

As Negredo lamented, the only downside of the tie is the fact it will not unfold in front of a packed Etihad Stadium, crackling with an electrically-charged atmosphere.

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“Football is losing a lot in that sense,” he said, “because without fans in the stands, it does not matter how good the players are – the game can’t be played the same as it is when 60, 70, 85,000 people are cheering.

I have recently been in a league in which a small audience attended the stadium and it affects the rhythm of the game sometimes – it makes it harder for you to get into it and this is an important factor.

“I remember when I was here at City, every time we were attacking, when we crossed to the attacking half of the pitch, the stadium was roaring and it encourages you to attack and finish the plays.

“For me, it is essential for football (for the fans) to be hooked, to be involved…”

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