Guardi­ola wants City to toughen up

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By James Ducker

Pep Guardi­ola has chal­lenged his Manch­ester City play­ers to prove him wrong and show they are men­tally strong enough to win the Cham­pi­ons League.

The man­ager claimed af­ter Satur­day’s 2-0 win at Crys­tal Palace that the Premier League cham­pi­ons were not ready to claim Europe’s big­gest prize. City will take a gi­ant step to­wards qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the knock­out stages if they beat Group C whip­ping boys Ata­lanta at the Eti­had Sta­dium tonight be­fore the re­turn game in Italy in a fort­night.

Guardi­ola’s side are favourites to top the group and their de­fen­sive woes ap­pear to be eas­ing, with Kyle Walker, Ni­co­las Ota­mendi and John Stones avail­able again. But Guardi­ola – who has been frus­trated in his ef­forts to re­claim the Euro­pean Cup since win­ning it for a sec­ond time with Barcelona in 2011 – wants his play­ers to toughen up.

City have twice ex­ited the knock­out stages on away goals un­der Guardi­ola, los­ing in the round of 16 to Monaco in his first sea­son in charge and to Tot­ten­ham in the quar­ter-fi­nals last term, with a 5-1 ag­gre­gate quar­ter-fi­nal de­feat by Liver­pool sand­wiched in be­tween.

Guardi­ola recog­nises that City have con­ceded too many goals over those ties – 15 in six games – and be­lieves they need to be bet­ter de­fen­sively and more clin­i­cal with the chances they do get. “Some­times qual­i­fi­ca­tion de­pends on a save from Eder­son,” he said. “Lit­tle mar­gins are the dif­fer­ence.

“I re­ally be­lieve th­ese sit­u­a­tions are about the men­tal­ity. We are good enough, we are strong enough. We be­lieve that. When you play th­ese games, you go in be­liev­ing we’re go­ing to de­fend well. When you play well, you don’t de­fend too much.

“We’ve got to think, to know when things are dan­ger­ous. When we talk about [im­prov­ing in the] boxes, it’s al­ways the de­fence but it is in front, too.

“In Europe, teams don’t give you 20 chances. Af­ter cre­at­ing chances you have to be solid, you can­not give away the goals we’ve given this sea­son.

“If you’re two on one, around the six-yard box, you have to score a goal. If not, it be­comes more dif­fi­cult in this com­pe­ti­tion against th­ese top teams.

“In this com­pe­ti­tion, you play against in­cred­i­ble play­ers and if you give some team, in one mo­ment, a me­tre, they will score.” Manch­ester City

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.