‘Pep’s inside knowledge can give City the edge
ILKAY GUNDOGAN (pix) believes Pep Guardiola’s inside track on Barcelona gives Manchester City a big advantage in their Champions League clash today.
Guardiola launched his managerial career in a four-season spell in charge of Barca between 2008 and 2012 and many of the players who played for him are still at the Nou Camp.
City have lost all four of their previous Champions League encounters with the Catalan giants when Manuel Pellegrini was manager but German midfielder Gundogan reckons Guardiola’s intimate knowledge of their opponents will be crucial.
He said: “It’s a big plus for us because Pep knows them. He knows the team, the club, the stadium and he knows [Lionel] Messi. He also knows the Barcelona way, the Catalan way, so he knows everything and he will give us some information that other managers can’t give.
“At the end, though, it’s down to our players to carry out what he wants us to do on the field.”
Gundogan says City will not be scared of the challenge even though he accepts Barca boast the world’s best attacking triumvirate in Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
He added: “This will be the biggest challenge so far. They will definitely be the best team we will have faced. They have worldclass players and maybe the world’s best in Messi.
“Away, it will be especially tough, a challenge, but we are definitely not scared. We are curious and want to have this experience and want to play in this stadium against this team. It will be exciting.”
Gundogan insists City’s confidence has not been dented by the two draws and a defeat that have slammed the brakes on their 10-game winning start to the season. But he admits they must be more clinical than they were against Everton on Saturday when they missed two penalties.
“No, we’re not worried, “he said. “We played a good game against Everton. It was just the score that was disappointing – the draw was not good for us.
“We missed two penalties but we know what we are able to do and we can achieve even more if we do that. That’s our next target.
“It’s about taking your chances in the Champions League. When you play away, you need to have this confidence, this flow and have the courage to play your own game.
“You can’t afford to make mistakes either because teams like this will punish you.” – Express Newspapers