Things aren’t going well at Manchester City. The four-time Premier League champions were in for a shock on Friday when UEFA handed them a two-year ban from the Champions League due to Financial Fairplay (FFP) breaches. The decision couldn’t have had come at a much worse time for Man City, who are 25 points behind league leaders Liverpool and face Real Madrid in the Champions League Round of 16.
While Man City manager Per Guardiola and star winger Raheem Sterling have pledged their futures to the club, the same cannot be said for their other stars at the club. In this period of unrest with a clash against Real Madrid looming, Man City invited Toni Nadal, the uncle and former coach of World No.2 Rafael Nadal, to address players and staff at the club’s training facility on Tuesday. City’s Champions League campaign is now more significant considering the FFP ban for the next two years.
Toni Nadal, the uncle and former coach of tennis star Rafael, has been at Man City today giving a talk to the players as they try to refocus before next week's Champions League quarter-final against... Rafael's beloved Real Madrid (!)— The Athletic UK (@TheAthleticUK) February 17, 2020
By @SamLee: https://t.co/ZBkZD8Taxj
Man City boss Pep Guardiola has urged his players to use the news of the Champions League as extra motivation when they take on Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League Round of 16 fixture. According to The Athletic, Guardiola has asked his players to prove a point on the pitch and show that they are more about ‘talent' and 'not money.’ Pep has drilled his players to be as focused as they have ever been on the game in Madrid, pushing home the significance of proper preparation, such as eating and resting well. The former Barcelona boss has also asked the players to avoid 'energy-draining' parties and events to remain fresh for the Champions League match.
Man City’s move to draft in Toni Nadal to deliver a speech is not in response to the FFP breach or the Champions League ban. According to The Athletic, the talk was arranged over a month ago and is not the first time that Man City have invited people to share inspirational stories to their players in the crucial stages of the season. Man City had earlier invited a crash survivor of the 1972 Andes flight disaster, who shared the story of 16 survivors who faced starvation and had to resort to cannibalism to survive.
The Man City players have also heard from Oscar Camps of Open Arms, a Spanish NGO devoted to rescuing refugees who bump into difficulties attempting to reach Europe by boat. Toni Nadal’s emphasis is more performance-related and he has been requested to help the players focus ahead of the difficult run of fixtures including the Real Madrid vs Man City clash.
World No.2 Rafael Nadal last year won the French Open and the US Open to take his Grand Slam title count to 19, one behind Swiss legend Roger Federer. Nadal has battled has several injuries in recent years and his uncle Toni Nadal speaks highly of his unconquerable spirit. Toni, who coached Rafael Nadal for 27 years, said that the World No.2 finds motivation in his fighting spirit than from winning while adding that his nephew learned to play with difficulty and always looked for personal satisfaction over victories. However, it remains to be seen how Rafael Nadal reacts when he finds out that his uncle is motivating his favourite side Real Madrid’s opponents ahead of their crunch Champions League clash.