Guardiola plays down City's Europe pedigree

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola reacts during a press conference at the City Academy in Manchester, Britain, on Sept 12, 2016. He says Manchester City are not yet ready to compete with Europe's elite.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola reacts during a press conference at the City Academy in Manchester, Britain, on Sept 12, 2016. He says Manchester City are not yet ready to compete with Europe's elite.PHOTO: EPA

LONDON • Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are not yet ready to compete with Europe's elite, but his side will be confident of opening their Champions League campaign with victory over Borussia Monchengladbach today.

The Spaniard could hardly have started his City reign more impressively with four consecutive Premier League wins and a crushing 6-0 Champions League play-off aggregate win over Steaua Bucharest.

But the 45-year-old, twice a Champions League winner as coach of Barcelona, has quickly moved to dampen expectations. He said: "Until now, in the Premier League it has been okay - but to compete against the best clubs in Europe, in this moment with the way we are playing, we are not able to."

The comment was all the more surprising coming after Saturday's impressive 2-1 win at Manchester United. Even without top striker Sergio Aguero, who was suspended but will be available today, City oozed confidence. Guardiola will also relish the return to fitness of Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan.

The same cannot be said of Monchengladbach, who City beat twice in the group phase last season before going on to reach the semi-finals for the first time.

The Bundesliga side were beaten 3-1 at Freiburg last weekend, interrupting what had been a bright start to the season for Andre Schubert's men. Fourth in the Bundesliga last season, Monchengladbach crushed BSC Young Boys 9-2 on aggregate in the Champions League play-offs and opened their domestic campaign with a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen.

Brazilian midfielder Raffael said: "I'm not anxious about the meeting with Man City, as it will be a completely different game. We aren't afraid of any team," he told the club's website.

City represent a huge challenge, though, especially given Guardiola's pedigree in the competition. He has never failed to reach at least the semi-finals in seven previous seasons.

REUTERS

MANCHESTER CITY V BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2016, with the headline 'Guardiola plays down City's Europe pedigree'. Print Edition | Subscribe