Wayne Rooney, former Manchester United, Everton, Derby County and England national team player, retired from football at the age of 35 after a successful professional career.
He now contributes to the media analyzing the current football situation at English teams.
In his latest column for The Times, he has previewed Manchester City‘s game against Real Madrid which is set to take place on Tuesday.
Despite his connections to the red half of Manchester, he reached a rather blunt conclusion.
“Manchester City will not only beat Real Madrid in the semi-final of the Champions League, but they are going to destroy them,” Rooney wrote in his column in The Times.
The former player acknowledges Real Madrid‘s record, but his clear favorite to go through to the final is City.
“Of course, I could be wrong, but I think City are on another level,” he added.
“You can never rule out a team with Real Madrid’s experience and history, but I wouldn’t bet on them. I think this is City’s year.
“From the start of the season I felt this would be the campaign where Pep Guardiola would finally conquer Europe with City and the football his team are playing in recent months and the way they are peaking at the right time has only reaffirmed that thought.”
For Rooney, the key factor in this tie is Erling Haaland, who has already broken the Premier League goal-scoring record in his first season.
“A year ago, Real Madrid knocked City out, but now the dynamic is different. City are better defensively and are a more patient team, but the biggest change is Erling Haaland,” Rooney explained.
“Last season at the Bernabeu the team had five crazy minutes that lost them the tie. With Haaland it wouldn’t have happened.
“Real Madrid could not have played the same way. In both games they had periods where they took the ball away from City and they were able to do that because City had no real counter-attacking threat.”
The former United forward wonders how Real Madrid can stop Haaland over the two-legged tie.
With Eder Militao unavailable for Carlo Ancelotti for the first leg through suspension, all signs point to Antonio Rudiger being tasked with dealing with the Norwegian striker.
“He’s a great competitor who likes one-on-one play,” Rooney said.