Football: Guardiola delighted at avoiding Bayern

Manchester City's David Silva (right) scoring the equaliser in the 1-1 Group C match at Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday as goalkeeper Yann Sommer (centre) and Andreas Christensen look on. The drawn game was sufficient to put City into the Champ
Manchester City's David Silva (right) scoring the equaliser in the 1-1 Group C match at Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday as goalkeeper Yann Sommer (centre) and Andreas Christensen look on. The drawn game was sufficient to put City into the Champions League knockout stage for a fourth consecutive season.PHOTO: REUTERS

City make it to Champions League knockout stage, Pep happy he won't meet former club

MONCHENGLADBACH • Pep Guardiola has admitted he is glad his Manchester City side will avoid his former club Bayern Munich in the draw for the last 16 of the Champions League.

City booked their place in the knockout phase on Wednesday with a sluggish 1-1 draw at Borussia Monchengladbach as both teams finished with 10 men.

The point confirms City will finish second in their group with one game left to play.

Monchengladbach are confirmed in third - which means the last 32 of the Europa League - after bottom side Celtic lost 0-2 at home to Barcelona, who win Group C.

Bayern will join City in the same pot when the draw for the last 16 is made on Dec 12 in Nyon.

 

  • 0

    Games Manchester City won in three away Champions League matches.

    9

    Goals they conceded on the road.

The German giants will also finish second in their group after their shock 3-2 defeat by Rostov with Atletico Madrid progressing as winners.

Guardiola said he is delighted to have steered City to the last 16, even more so to have avoided Bayern, whom he took to the semi-finals in each of the last three seasons.

"In the last 16, all the teams will be tough," he said. "Bayern, for example, are also second. The team who gets them is going to suffer and I'm glad we won't play them."

Raffael's goal for Monchengladbach midway through the first half was cancelled out by City's David Silva on the stroke of half-time at Borussia Park.

Gladbach then had captain Lars Stindl sent off on 50 minutes for a second yellow card. But both sides were left with 10 men for the final half-hour when City had Fernandinho dismissed for his second yellow after pulling Raffael.

It was not a convincing display from City. They looked vulnerable in defence in the first half and have now conceded nine goals on the road, failing to win any of their three away matches in Europe.

Guardiola's unconventional starting formation, best described as 3-2-4-1, did not work and he switched to a flat back four after half an hour.

Plan A had looked bizarre from the moment the team sheets landed. Guardiola has flirted with a three-man central defence occasionally in the opening months of the season.

But to do so from the start against Monchengladbach, with Jesus Navas and Raheem Sterling pushed so far forward on the wings, seemed more than a little reckless.

City did dominate possession in that opening half-hour, but they were outnumbered, particularly in wide areas, whenever their opponents had the opportunity to counter-attack.

For all their possession in the second half, their star-studded attack failed to convert their chances.

But City are in the last 16 for the fourth straight year and Guardiola was happy to have progressed, adding that his focus now lies in the Premier League.

"We will prioritise our games in the Premier League," the Spaniard said.

"We have Burnley and Chelsea before we have to think about Celtic in 10 days' time.

"We have qualification in the bag, so that's decided until February and we can focus on other things."

Monchengladbach are winless in their last six games but the result relieves some of the pressure on coach Andre Schubert, whose team are mid-table in Germany's top flight.

"Overall, we are very happy with the third place," said Schubert.

"In the first half we played an outstanding game and could have scored a second goal."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2016, with the headline 'Guardiola delighted at avoiding Bayern'. Print Edition | Subscribe