Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has named Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola as ‘the best coach in the world’ ahead of their UEFA Champions League showdown
Zidane and Guardiola will meet face-to-face as managers in a competitive fixture for the first time as Real welcome City to the Santiago Bernabeu for the first leg of their last-16 tie on Wednesday.
Zizou, who has already applauded his Spanish counterpart in the past, has reiterated his appreciation for Guardiola’s work, calling him ‘the best in the world.’
“He has always shown it: first at Barcelona, then Bayern Munich, now at City,” the Frenchman said, as reported by the Evening Standard.
“It’s my opinion. Others might think others are better. There are many coaches, but for me, he is the best.”
When asked about facing the former Barcelona coach in Europe’s elite club competition, the 47-year-old replied: “It’s Madrid-City, not Guardiola-Zidane. It’s a game of football, and that is what the fans want to see.
“It’s a special match. We are happy because we want to be playing these games.”
🗣| Zidane when asked if Guardiola is the best coach in the world:— City Chief (@City_Chief) February 25, 2020
"He's shown it at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City. There are a lot of [top] coaches, but I think it's him." pic.twitter.com/G7dtGj7qkY
It will be the second time ever that these two sides face each other in the Champions League knockout stages, with Los Blancos running out 1-0 aggregate winners in the competition’s semi-finals in 2015/16.
The reigning Premier League holders will now look to return the favor as they go into this encounter on the back of two consecutive league victories.
Guardiola hopes to have Raheem Sterling fit and ready for the match, as the Englishman seems to be closing in on a return after picking up a hamstring injury against Tottenham at the beginning of February.
In the meantime, Zidane will be desperate to see his side bounce back after two straight La Liga games without a win (D1, L1), although he will not be able to count on the summer marquee signing Eden Hazard.
The 29-year-old Belgian faces another lengthy spell on the sidelines after hurting his knee again during the weekend’s 1-0 away loss to Levante.