Pablo Zabaleta says Manchester City are not scared of their Champions League group this year, but that they are not taking Real Madrid lightly.
The Argentine full-back has just touched down in Madrid with his City teammates ahead of tomorrow night’s Group D opening match at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Speaking to AS, the 27-year-old insisted that he and his teammates are relishing the tough-looking group, which also includes Dutch champions Ajax and German champions Borussia Dortmund.
“I felt extreme motivation [in first seeing the draw]. Was I scared? You want a simple headline… Look, last season, City won the Premier League for the first time in 44 years. We celebrated a lot, even more so after the agonising end to the game.
“We enjoyed it, especially after considering that the other team was Manchester United, so you can imagine. But note that months earlier in the Champions League, the impact we received was so immense.
“We were eliminated in the group stage in a resounding manner, something no-one believed, but it happened.
“We have a desire to avenge that, to the depths of our soul, and football always gives you a rematch.”
Even with such motivation and the fact that Real Madrid are struggling in the League at the moment, the former Espanyol full-back has warned his teammates not to think that Tuesday evening will be easy for them.
“I played several years in La Liga and learned never to trust Real Madrid ever. As bad as they may seem they always have an answer to everything and if they seem to be hurting, it is even more complicated for opponents.
“I don’t think they are [physically and mentally suffering]. Physically they have players who played last summer at the Euros and won with Spain, but they had their weeks off.
“In addition, Madrid breezed through the Supercopa against Barcelona. After winning the title, tempers seem to have risen, for sure.
“They are in a delicate moment, but as I said before, that makes them even more dangerous.”