De­fender urges team to show char­ac­ter against Liver­pool after Cham­pi­ons League de­ba­cle

New Straits Times - - Sport -


BACARY Sagna in­sists Manch­ester City will make amends for their Cham­pi­ons League mis­ery by se­cur­ing a cru­cial win against Liver­pool in the Pre­mier League to­mor­row.

Pep Guardi­ola’s side were elim­i­nated from Europe’s elite club com­pe­ti­tion in stun­ning fash­ion on Wed­nes­day as they blew a 5-3 first leg ad­van­tage to go out on away goals fol­low­ing a 3-1 de­feat at Monaco.

It was an­other ma­jor set­back for City man­ager Guardi­ola, who had never be­fore seen one of his teams knocked out be­fore the Cham­pi­ons League quar­ter-fi­nals.

For­mer Barcelona and Bay­ern Mu­nich boss Guardi­ola was heav­ily crit­i­cised for his tac­tics and team se­lec­tion in Monaco, but City de­fender Sagna is adamant the blame lies with the play­ers for fail­ing to show enough fight.

With third placed City just one point ahead of fourth placed Liver­pool

AP PIC in the bat­tle for a top four fin­ish, Guardi­ola needs a lift and Sagna called on his team­mates to get back on track with a vi­tal three points at East­lands to­mor­row.

“We for­got to fight as a team,” Sagna said. “We are out and we have to re­cover be­cause on Sun­day we have an im­por­tant game. “I ex­pect a re­ac­tion from the team. I ex­pect more de­sire, to show more pas­sion.

“We have to re­cover be­cause it was quite a dif­fi­cult game and then we have to think about Liver­pool.”

Hav­ing won three of their last four games, Liver­pool have opened up a five-point gap on fifth placed Ar­se­nal as the race for Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fi­ca­tion hots up. AFP

“Our job is to do as well as we can. We want to play Cham­pi­ons League next sea­son. Six or seven fight­ing for the places,” Wenger said.

“How well we do will de­pend on that. Suc­cess is to get max­i­mum from the po­ten­tial of the team. Noth­ing is good enough any­more so you try to do as well as you can.”

Ar­se­nal will give fit­ness tests to Alex Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain and Kieran Gibbs, but Wenger is boosted by the re­turn of Mo­hamed El­neny after an an­kle prob­lem and he should be avail­able for the trip to the Hawthorns.

Wenger says the trip to the mid­lands will not be an easy one against a side eighth in the Pre­mier League.

“They have a big ex­pe­ri­ence, they are well or­gan­ised, phys­i­cally very strong and very ef­fi­cient on set-pieces,” he said.

“I think they’re the team who have scored more goals than any­body else on set-pieces.

“This sea­son they’ve done very well in mid­field. They have played very well and up front they have Hal Rob­son-Kanu and Salomon Ron­don, who have done very well for them up front as well.

“It’s a very bal­anced team with a good size who are very equipped to deal with the Pre­mier League.” AFP

Manch­ester City’s Bacary Sagna (left) vies for the ball with Monaco’s Thomas Le­mar in their Cham­pi­ons League last 16, sec­ond leg match on Wed­nes­day.

Arsene Wenger

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