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Ramos: Man City could be extra motivated because of ban

MADRID (AP) — If anything, Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos is expecting Manchester City to be extra motivated for the Champions League because of its two-year ban from the competition beginning next season.

The Madrid captain said Tuesday the ban may give the English team a boost ahead of Wednesday's first leg at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

“When you see that this could be your last Champions League in the next few years, maybe that gives you extra motivation,” Ramos said. “Fortunately we don’t have to go through that, and hopefully it will never happen to us. The Champions League is a special competition because of what it generates, because of its magnitude worldwide, so it is the focus for all great soccer players. It is a great place for them to shine.”

UEFA recently handed Man City a ban from European competition after a panel found that it had seriously breached financial regulations and failed to cooperate with investigators. The club was expected to file an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but if the punishment stands, City won’t be back in Europe until the 2022-23 season.

The English club is trying to win its first Champions League title.

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said the ban should neither add motivation nor pressure to Man City. He said his team should stay focused on its own responsibilities.

“We know we will be playing against a team that has already shown how good it is,” Zidane said. “What we have to do is to play a good game. In the end, it’s all about that. It’s about giving everything we’ve got on the field. We have to think only about what we have been doing well recently.”

The results haven’t been good for Madrid, though, coming off a draw and a loss that dropped the team behind Barcelona at the top of Spanish league. The Spanish powerhouses will meet in the “clásico” in Madrid on Sunday.

“We need to try to forget about our last results,” Ramos said. “It doesn't matter what we've done recently or what City has done recently. Sometimes you haven't been playing well but when you get to the Champions League you have a great match. That's what we want to do. We are motivated despite the recent bad results.”

Man City has won two in a row in the Premier League.

Ramos said playing against former Barcelona player and coach Pep Guardiola, now the Man City manager, won't change Madrid's approach.

“I have a lot of respect for Guardiola,” he said. “But what motivates us is to be playing in the Champions League.”

Zidane again said he thinks Guardiola is the best coach in the world, but noted that it will be Madrid against City on Wednesday, not Zidane against Guardiola.

“What fans will come to see is a soccer match,” he said. “They want to see a great match between Madrid and City. It's an attractive game. Players want to be playing these types of games.”

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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