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Why do Real Madrid have nine days off before playing against Manchester City in the Champions League?

Pep Guardiola’s team will play two games before Carlo Ancelotti’s men are next in action in the UCL quarter-finals.

Pep Guardiola’s team will play two games before Carlo Ancelotti’s men are next in action in the UCL quarter-finals.
chema MoyaEFE

Manchester City’s hopes of clinching a fifth Premier League title in six years were dealt a blow by a goalless draw at home to Arsenal on Sunday, hours before Real Madrid tightened their grip on LaLiga by defeating Athletic Club at the Santiago Bernabéu. The two teams will meet in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday 9 April but their respective preparations for a mouthwatering match-up will also be hugely contrasting.

What did Pep Guardiola say about Manchester City’s fixture schedule?

Ahead of City’s draw against The Gunners, head coach Pep Guardiola lamented the hand he had been dealt by the fixture calendar compared to his upcoming European opponents.

Madrid have nine days to prepare for our game. Nine days! They play this weekend and then not again until our game – while I am thinking, ‘Oh, just give me one more day!’ With one more day the difference is a lot – but there is no chance. That’s why, when you ask me about changes to the calendar, I give my opinion – but forget about it.”

Why are Real Madrid not playing in LaLiga next weekend?

The Champions League clash of the titans comes immediately after a rare weekend when no LaLiga fixtures are scheduled. As is traditionally the case, all eyes will be on the the Copa del Rey final next weekend in Spain, with Athletic Club and Mallorca facing off in the final on Saturday (6 April) at La Cartuja in Seville. LaLiga will resume with matchday 31 on Friday 12 April, with Los Blancos next in action in Mallorca the following day.

Madrid were eliminated from the competition, which they won in 2022/23, in the round of 16 by Atlético Madrid after extra time.

When do Manchester City play before the Champions League game against Real Madrid?

Manchester City, on the other hand, have two crucial Premier League games to play before Carlo Ancelotti’s team are back in action. On Wednesday, the current Champions League holders host Aston Villa at the Etihad, before travelling to London to play Crystal Palace on Saturday, three days before they visit the Spanish capital.

After their stalemate against Arsenal, City are three points behind leaders Liverpool and one behind The Gunners with nine league fixtures left to play.

Carlo Ancelotti: schedule “won’t determine the outcome” of UCL tie

Ancelotti also discussed the contrast after seeing his team regain their eight-point lead at the top of LaLiga on Sunday but insists it will have a minimum impact on next week’s game.

“Obviously, they have a more complicated schedule. We have a small advantage in this regard, but it will not determine the outcome of the match. It’s good for us to have a week to prepare for the game. We will give rest to those who have been with their national teams, and it is just enough time to prepare for the game in the best way.”

Could too much rest actually be as much of a problem as not enough? Some believe so, although Guardiola doesn’t appear to be in that camp. After squaring off at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on Tuesday (9 April), City and Madrid will each play one league match before the decisive second leg at the Etihad on Wednesday 17 April.