Champions League: Guardiola Promises To Attack Liverpool

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola promised to stick by his playing style by attacking Liverpool in their Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday, despite admitting he is playing into the hands of his opponent.

Liverpool are the only side to have defeated the runaway leaders City in the Premier League this season in a 4-3 thriller at Anfield in January.

The hosts’ fearsome front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane were all on target that day as part of their combined tally of 75 goals this season.

However, Guardiola’s bold brand of attacking football has been accompanied by success everywhere he has gone in a stellar coaching career from Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now at City.

And he believes that is the best way for City to reach just their second ever Champions League semi-final, but the eighth in his nine seasons as a top-flight coach.

“I know the way we play is perfect for Liverpool because they are a team that attack the space unlike any other team in the world, especially Mane, Salah, Firmino, they are so good,” said Guardiola on Tuesday.

“But I feel the best way to win is the way we try to do since we were here.”

No opposing manager has beaten Guardiola more times than Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. In 12 previous meetings, Klopp has six wins to Guardiola’s five.

Klopp was keen to play down the significance of that record, but Guardiola hailed their shared spirit to entertain.

“Both teams try to play. We are the teams that scored the most goals in Premier League this season by far,” added Guardiola.

“I think Jurgen Klopp teams are honest teams that respect what football means. They try to attack and of course we are going to try to (do the same). I’m sure tomorrow is going to be a good game.”

City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne described the sides’ January meeting as a “crazy game” that was “beautiful for the neutral”.

Champions League: Guardiola Not Scared Of Kloop

Jurgen Klopp has no problems saluting Pep Guardiola’s prowess in masterminding the  “extraordinary” teams, but the Liverpool boss is sure they can close the class difference when Manchester City visit Anfield for their Champions League showdown.

Having first gone head to head with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, the warm rivalry between Klopp and Guardiola has its biggest platforms yet as Liverpool face City in the Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday.

Two of Europe’s heavyweight managers, Klopp and Guardiola look destined to compete for the sport’s biggest prizes for the upcoming years.

But there is strong mutual admiration between the bosses, with Klopp unstinting in his praise for Guardiola’s ability to get his players to give life to his purist principles.

“His teams are always excellently positioned. He always has great teams which make excellent decisions,” Klopp told UEFA.com recently.

“At Barcelona it was Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Lionel Messi and so on.

“At Bayern Munich he had fantastic players who made a lot of great decisions. Now, with Gundogan, Silva, Aguero, Sane on the left wing, Sterling on the wing, Gabriel Jesus, they’re extraordinary.

“Positioning is important, but this is not witchcraft, it is not unusual just because the wing-backs come inside.

“But when the players are in position they move every millisecond in order to be available, and when they are, that’s when the individual quality of the player becomes important.”

Likewise, Guardiola is an admirer of Klopp’s commitment to an entertaining style of play, the Spaniard last season hailing his counterpart as “the best manager in the world for spectators because creates teams to attack the back four”.

Despite their ability to thrill the neutral, Klopp and Guardiola had vastly different paths to Wednesday’s seismic encounter.

Klopp’s journeyman playing career took in stops at unglamourous outposts including Rot-Weiss Frankfurt and Mainz, while Guardiola played for over a decade in the rarified air of Barcelona, where the local boy made good became a Catalan icon.

It was no different when they took their first steps into management.

Klopp learned his trade in anonymity at Mainz before enjoying a career breakthrough once he moved to Dortmund in 2008.

Taking over at Barcelona in the same year Klopp arrived at Dortmund, the cerebral Guardiola relished the intellectual and philosophical aspects of management.

Yet that renaissance man image hid a fiercely competitive streak that has fuelled all of his best teams.

Although Klopp twice won the Bundesliga title with Dortmund, who also finished as Champions League runners-up in 2013, the 50-year-old has yet to secure the first silverware of his two-and-a-half-year reign at Liverpool

In contrast, Guardiola has amassed 22 trophies with Barcelona, Bayern and City, including two Champions League crowns and six domestic league titles.

The 47-year-old can make it seven league titles if City get the three points they need to be crowned champions by beating Manchester United on Saturday.

First, Guardiola will focus on finding a way to improve his mediocre record against Klopp.

Leaders City are 18 points clear of third placed Liverpool in the Premier League, but there won’t be any inferiority complex from Klopp when they clash for the third time this season.

Liverpool’s 4-3 win over City in January saw Klopp take his personal tally against Guardiola’s teams to six wins, five defeats and one draw from 12 fixtures.

Klopp has enjoyed more victories over Guardiola than any other manager and he believes he can add to that impressive record because his Liverpool squad is closer in quality to Guardiola’s current crop than at any time in their careers.

“There’s no big difference, actually. It’s just that Pep has always had better teams than me,” Klopp said.

“You can see that now with Manchester City – they have a lot more points (in the Premier League) than we do.

“However, that difference has never been as small as it is now.”

Ex-Bayern Doctor Lambastes Guardiola: You Lack Self-Confidence And Live In Fear

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has been described in damning and damaging terms by former bayern Munich team doctor Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt who said the Spaniard “is a person with a weak self-confidence who does everything to hide that from other people,” in his newly released autobiography.

Muller-Wohlfahrt, in a snippet from his book, Seeing with your Hands: My Life and my Medicine, published in Bild reopened old wounds with Guardiola with whom he had a tough times with back then in Bayern Munich.

The doctor was orthopaedic surgeon who had worked at Bayern for more than 35 years by the time Guardiola was appointed as head coach in 2013 but the pair endured a tempestous relationship with the former Barca boss irritated by Muller-Wohlfahrt’s refusal to attend training sessions and reportedly clashing with the veteran physician over a number of issues, including treatment for the injury-plagued Thiago Alcantara.

Matters came to a head after Bayern’s 3-1 defeat to Porto in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 2015, as

Muller-Wohlfahrt and three members of his staff stepped down and claimed they were held responsible for the 3-1 Champions League defeat to Porto in 2015.

Now back in another capacity at the club, the passage of time does not appear to have healed old wounds.

“I think Pep Guardiola is a person with a weak self-confidence who does everything to hide that from other people,” .

“Because of that he seems to live in a constant fear. Not so much of defeats but of the loss of power and authority.

“He knew everything better: Five minutes warm-up had to be enough. But that couldn’t end up well.

“Apparently he saw me as a receiver of commands whom he could order every time he wants.”

Muller-Wohlfahrt explained he found himself yelling angrily at Guardiola as their relationship went downhill.

“I shouted at Guardiola and hit the table with my fist so hard that the plates and cups clanked. The first time during all the years [at Bayern] I had to be loud,” he added.

Guardiola’s City are two wins away from claiming the Premier League title and are in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Bayern, also on the cusp of progress to the next round of the competition, could wrap up a sixth consecutive Bundesliga crown this weekend.

I  Don’t My Judge Team Based On Results But Intentions – Guardiola

Manchester City’s quest for a historic quadruple is over after  Wigan shockingly defeated them in the F.A cup challenge  but there is little time to lick their wounds with the League Cup final against Arsenal looming.

Pep Guardiola faces Arsene Wenger in the Wembley showpiece, trying to win the first trophy of the Guardiola era, with Premier League glory looking certain without any imminent threats.

Guardiola’s team are also a team to look out for in the champions league after they trashed basel 0-4 in their clash away in the first leg of their last-16 tie last week.

But, even with the league title apparently in the bag, back-to-back cup defeats would put a dampener on what has been an impressive season of dazzling football.

Ten-man City went down 1-0 to League One Wigan in an ill-tempered FA Cup fifth round tie on Monday, courtesy of a late Will Grigg goal — a repeat of the scoreline in the 2013 FA Cup final.

To make matters worse, Sergio Aguero became embroiled in an ugly post-match altercation with fans while visiting supporters were seen tearing up advertising hoardings and throwing them on to the pitch.

“We’ve got to look at those (other three competitions) and look forward, but we’re disappointed,” said City defender John Stones.

“We wanted to be in all four competitions right until the end. That’s been cut short now. We’ll take time to reflect on tonight and look forward to the final on the weekend.”

Guardiola left Ederson, Kyle Walker, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling out of his starting line-up but otherwise named a strong side containing Aguero, David Silva and centre-backs Stones and Aymeric Laporte.

– Delph challenge –

Following a series of complaints over dangerous challenges on his players not being punished harshly enough, Guardiola saw his own player, Fabian Delph, shown a straight red card just before half-time.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss then exchanged heated words with Wigan manager Paul Cook as they went down the tunnel at half-time.

But the Catalan admitted Delph and City only had themselves to blame for the defeat.

“Is a red card, yeah,” said Guardiola.

“For me it’s an unnecessary action and the referee decides what he decides, so I’m not here to judge, so can be a red card. We have to learn about that.

“I just judge my team for the intentions, not the result and today the intentions were good. We tried 10 against 11.”

City still dominated despite being a man light as Wigan enjoyed just 17 per cent possession and four shots compared to City’s 29.

However, they had the shot that counted, when Grigg latched onto an error from Walker, who came on after Delph was sent off, before firing past Claudio Bravo 11 minutes from time.

“We conceded one shot on target in 90 minutes and we lost, but football is like this,” added Guardiola.

The City boss played down his spat with Cook.

“Nothing happened in the tunnel, nothing happened with my colleague,” he said. “It was just please stay in your position, that’s all, and then finished.”

Guardiola said he did not see the Aguero incident at the end of the game.

“I was in the locker room, I didn’t see it,” he said. “It’s safer when the fans are not there, but sometimes it happens. The fans respect the players and the players the fans and go inside.”

Manchester City Eye Chelsea Playmaker Hazard

 

“Even City,” Pep Guardiola insisted on Friday when pushed on transfer spending. “There are salaries we cannot pay, and there are transfer [fees] we cannot pay.

“We do not know in the future what is going to happen but we didn’t pay more than £100 million, £90m or £80m for one player.

“We cannot pay that right now. They [the board] told me.”

Those comments have raised eyebrows but presumably the Manchester City coach was explaining that his club have not paid big fees for individual players because they have needed to spread their money around to strengthen several areas of the squad.

Technically, it is a case of “will not” rather than “cannot”. City, of course, have as big a budget as any. If they had wanted to, they could have triggered Neymar’s Barcelona buy-out clause in the summer and paid him the wages he is now earning in Paris. They didn’t, of course, because while they would have had one of the world’s best forwards, they wouldn’t have had any full-backs.

Now, though, City are interested in Eden Hazard. It is not yet known how confident the club are of persuading Chelsea to let their star man move to a direct rival, or if the Belgian himself will spurn Real Madrid’s advances. There is plenty of time for that to sort itself out, and the main concern for now will be how City expect to sign such an expensive player given what Guardiola said just three days ago.

Luckily, he has already explained it.

“It’s true when the people of Abu Dhabi took over the team, in that period they spent a lot,” he said ahead of the game with Newcastle on Janury 20. “But our most expensive player is Kevin De Bruyne (around £55m) and when you see now the reality, a lot of clubs spend much more for one or two players.

“We [spent] the same amount for four, five or six players. In the end what we spent in the summer is quite similar to United, but they bought two or three players and we bought six or seven.”

Guardiola rules out buying a No.9 and clearly doesn’t want to get into more summer transfer sagas (so could sign players in January). Also explains why players had no instructions at all v Watford, plus Liverpool reaction & players being 100% committed to transfers.

Guardiola said he does not judge United for how they have spent their money, but it does illustrate the point. City have not been in a position to pay upwards of £80m on one player because they have had more pressing needs.

That could soon change.

In that same pre-Newcastle press conference, Guardiola spoke openly about the market and City’s plans for it.  Three days later the Blues’ latest transfer strategy was revealed by Goal , and it turned out the Catalan was in fact giving chapter and verse about how the club are now conducting their business.

He spoke of “anticipating” the market; as well as pointing out that players will cost even more in the summer than they will in January, he hinted City would simply try to get their top targets in this month rather than waiting. He even went as far as saying the club would be “unlucky” if they had to do business during the summer.

It turns out everything he said reflected City’s newest plans, plans which were only finalised the day of the Newcastle game. The main message is this: they really do not want to spend a World Cup summer pursuing three or four top players, especially with the window closing before the season starts on August 11.

In the last week the Blues have been trying to do the bulk of their “summer” business in January. A move for Aymeric Laporte should be completed before Wednesday’s deadline , while they have been trying to persuade Shakhtar Donetsk to sell midfielder Fred this month . There is also a third name on the agenda, though senior officials are keeping his name close to their chests and even in the middle of last week it was believed there would not be enough time to sign him.

So everything Guardiola said in public turned out to reflect exactly what is happening behind the scenes.

He said something else, too.

“Maybe in the future the club will spend more than £100m on one player like other important teams did. We need to change the squad and of course what happened last summer (Neymar), everything increased amazingly. You have to adapt to that.”

If City do not manage to get Fred in this month they will hope to tie up an agreement to get him in the summer. They would then be in a different position to the last two years; they would not need five or six key players, they would only need one. A forward.

There will be other business – a lower-profile centre-back and replacements for anybody who wants to leave – but this could be where City decide they  will  pay the going rate, that they will “adapt”, as Guardiola put it, to the new reality.

Hazard is one of at least three forwards that particularly appeal to Guardiola, and the club are looking into the possibility of signing him, but there are many obstacles to overcome before that can even be considered a genuine possibility.

Quite apart from Chelsea’s reluctance to sell and Madrid’s rival interest, the wages would have to be right; City do not want to go much above what De Bruyne earns (around £280,000-a-week plus bonuses).

We Are Not Satisfied Yet – Guardiola

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City proved against Newcastle United that their title charge will not be affected by self approval as they returned to winning ways after they were defeated by Liverpool.

 

Premier League sitting leaders reacted well to their first domestic loss of the season at Anfield on January 14 by defeating the Magpies 3-1 with a Sergio Aguero scoring a hat-trick.

 

Guardiola had said beforehand it was important that his players responded well and he feels the display at the home Stadium, which maintained a 12-point lead at the top, showed their flexibility.

 

“I said many times it was going to happen, we can lose, so (it is) important the reaction we have to do,” said the manager.

 

“Still we have 42 points to play (for). It is 14 games. It is a lot of games to play and difficult games like Saturday and like Liverpool. It is important to show the team is still there but I don’t have the feeling we give up.

 

“We want to go through to the final in the (League) Cup and the FA Cup, so (we have) a lot of games but I think the people have the desire to keep going, to keep going, to keep going.

 

“Even with 12 points it is important to see the personality, the team and try to do the things with no mistakes. Never did I not see it this season and that is why I am so proud to be their manager.”

 

City have earned plenty of plaudits as they have dominated the Premier League this season.

 

But Guardiola, whose side are also still challenging in three other competitions, does not want to reflect on that yet and wants his players to focus only the games ahead.

 

He said: “I said to them until fixture 24 we were the best team but that doesn’t count. It counts after fixture 38.

 

“Still we have 14 and to win 10 or 11 games will be tough. Every team will play for something, to stay (up), for Europa League, Champions League and will be focused.

 

 

 

“I said, ‘don’t look back, look at what we have to achieve,’ because if you try to (look at) what happened behind, that is not a good solution from my experience.”

I Am Going To “Kill” My Players If We Fail To Win Premier League – Guardiola

Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola has vowed his team are condemned to finish the season the way they started or he’ll ‘kill’ the players.

City continued their Premier League dominance with a 2-0 win at Leicester City on Saturday seeing them maintain their eight-point lead at the top, scoring 40 goals and conceding just seven in the process.

The Spaniard said there was no chance of his team becoming complacent despite their stunning form.

“That is not going to happen because I am their manager,” Guardiola said.

“The team, that is not going to happen. I’ll kill them. Complacency doesn’t happen in my teams.

 

“They can play bad, teams are going to beat us, that happens.

“But if you see the team, they have the desire to have the ball and play. We are not a team that speculates about absolutely anything. That’s not going to happen.”

Guardiola’s men have made a flying start to the season, dropping just two points from the first 12 games,

City have already qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League but they host Feyenoord on Tuesday.

 

Pep Panic As Real Madrid In Contact With Man City Brahim Diaz

Real Madrid is ready to drop their interest in Tottenham ace Dele Alli in favour for another Premier League starlet.

Real president Florentino Perez is in the market for a new attacking midfielder and is shopping in England for a solution.

Alli has been under consideration, however, Diario Gol says Perez is now switching his focus to Manchester City whizkid Brahim Diaz.

Tied to City until 2019, Diaz’s representatives are already in talks with Real intermediaries.

The midfielder, who joined City three years ago from Malaga, enjoys a huge reputation in Spain but is yet to force his way into manager Pep Guardiola’s senior plans.

Guardiola is aware of Real’s approach and has already spoken to Diaz, urging him to be patient.

Source: Tribal Football

Man City: Stones Eager To Repay Guardiola For Faith In Him

John Stones Manchester City center-back says he is anxious to repay manager Pep Guardiola for the faith he showed in him during his difficult first season at the Etihad Stadium.

The 23-year-old, produced several error-strewn displays last season after joining City from Everton in a £47.5 million ($62.9 million, 53.6 million euros) move that made him the world’s second most expensive defender.

But Guardiola stuck by the England international and has been rewarded this season as Stones has contributed to six clean sheets in City’s last seven games, helping the club to top spot in the Premier League.

“Really good,” Stones said when asked how Guardiola had helped him last season. “Always positive and wanting me to do better and that’s what I try to repay him on the pitch.

“The games this season speak for themselves: clean sheets both in the Champions League and Premier League. I feel like I’m developing as a player and a person under him.

“That’s all down to the players around me, him and the staff that are there. All I want to do is keep this run going and see where it takes us.”

Stones produced a strong performance in City’s 1-0 win at defending champions Chelsea last Saturday and he agreed it was one of his most impressive displays in City’s colors.

“I think I’ve always been moving in the right direction. Everyone has their ups and downs,” he told journalists ahead of England’s penultimate World Cup qualifier at home to Slovenia on Thursday.

“We’ve started this season well as a team. It was an important match against Chelsea. They won the league last season.

“It was an important game to keep the run going and keep another clean sheet. Defensively, on a personal note, it was maybe one of the best games I’ve played in.”

Goal-Hungry Man City Can Still Improve, Says Guardiola

Pep Guardiola says his free-scoring Manchester City side can still improve — in a chilling message to Premier League rivals — but is refusing to get carried away by their electrifying early-season form.

City hammered Watford 6-0 at Vicarage Road on Saturday to complete three wins in seven days, scoring 15 goals without reply.

Hailing full-back recruits Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy for transforming City’s blueprint, Guardiola, whose side are top of the Premier League alongside Manchester United, said his team is nowhere near their peak.

“Even if it looks like we cannot improve, of course, we can improve,” said Guardiola. “There’s still movement, there are still actions we can improve.

“The full-backs are so important. They offer energy to go up and down so that means we can put more players in the middle, to play, to pass the sort passes.”

“I like it when we play short passes through the middle, five, six meters, that gives us continuity,” he added. “We create the spaces behind the press.

“To do that you need more players in one position. And Kyle (Walker) and Danilo and Mendy help us a lot to be able to do that. Without that, it would be even more complicated.”

Sergio Aguero’s sixth Premier League hat-trick on Saturday leaves the 29-year-old three goals shy of breaking City’s all-time scoring record, held by Eric Brook with 177 strikes.

But Guardiola, in comments reported by the British press on Monday, remains cautious.

Asked if he considers City now ready to go toe-to-toe with the likes of reigning champions Chelsea, Guardiola replied: “We will see. But I think we’ve made a step forward in terms of last season.

“My feeling now is that everybody knows what we have to do, the players know what they have to do, with, without the ball in transition. And that’s so important.”

“We weren’t good enough last season, Chelsea and Tottenham were better,” Guardiola added. “You have to accept it.

“You have to accept sometimes the opposition is better. Then you analyze why to improve for the future.”

 

 

 

Source: The Guardian

Man City Give Guardiola Deja Vu

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola expressed fears that his team’s goal-scoring problems remain an issue after they drew 1-1 with Everton in their opening Premier League home game.

Wayne Rooney put Everton ahead in the 35th minute on Monday and City had Kyle Walker controversially sent off before halftime, but the hosts hit back to level through substitute Raheem Sterling’s volley eight minutes from time.

City regularly struggled to kill teams off last season, drawing seven home games in the league, and when asked if his side’s latest display had brought to mind their travails from 2016-17, Guardiola replied: “Yep.

“We created three, four chances before the goal. They play man-to-man, six, eight players there, closing (down).

“(Ashley) Williams, (Phil) Jagielka, (Michael) Keane, (Leighton) Baines, all the guys, they are very good in one-against-one.

“We tried to find the way to attack them and we did it. (When the opposition) arrive once (in the box), score a goal, that can happen.

“Our amount of opportunities on target or close to the target was good. We were there all the time. We never gave up, with the spirit of the Mancunians.”

He added: “What we can do is try and create the chances. Maybe one day we’ll change, we’ll find it.

“Last season we were the first or second team for creating clear chances. I think the first one. We just made (scored) 16 percent.

“In that level, it’s results. In our box, it was perfect. They arrived once. But OK, we will improve.”

For the second time this season, Guardiola started with Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus up front, but he withdrew Jesus at halftime as part of the reshuffle that followed Walker’s home-debut dismissal.

Booked for sliding in on Leighton Baines, Walker was shown a second yellow card by referee Robert Madley two minutes later following a fairly innocuous collision with Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

ROONEY A ‘TEACHER’

Guardiola refused to talk about Madley in his post-match press conference.

Everton manager Ronald Koeman also had reason to rue one of the referee’s decisions after he, too, lost a player to a harsh second booking, with Morgan Schneiderlin sent off late on after sliding in to tackle Aguero.

While Koeman acknowledged that Madley had a “difficult job”, he suggested Schneiderlin’s dismissal had been on the cards from the moment Walker trudged off.

“I was in a good position and in my opinion he (Schneiderlin) played the ball,” said Koeman, who gave a debut to record signing Gylfi Sigurdsson.

“But away against City, he’s sending off one player of City and a difficult situation, you know what the referee will do then. A yellow and his second and it’s red. You can expect it.”

Koeman said he had been “disappointed” to see Sterling equalize, but said it was a “good point” to take back to Merseyside.

Rooney’s goal, a first-time finish from Calvert-Lewin’s square pass, was his 200th in the Premier League.

The former Manchester United striker celebrated by cupping his ears in front of City’s fans, many of whom spent the entirety of the match goading him.

“He is still that player that every manager needs in his team and maybe more for Everton. He is back home,” said Koeman, who brought Rooney back to Goodison Park from United in July.

“We have young players. We had three players of 20 years on the pitch against City and they did a great job. He is that experienced player, that teacher of young players. We’d like to win titles and he knows how you win titles.

“It’s a big step up for the young players. Against Stoke I was really pleased about his performance.

“Also tonight, with that cleverness to know exactly in every moment what is the best decision. I’m very happy about him.”

 

 

Source: SuperSport