Big Match

City can bounce back: Pep

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola expects today's Premier League clash against Tottenham to be as intense as the Champions League quarter-final second leg on Wednesday but he will not change his approach.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola expects today's Premier League clash against Tottenham to be as intense as the Champions League quarter-final second leg on Wednesday but he will not change his approach.PHOTO: REUTERS

Champs League exit still hurts but Guardiola is confident team can refocus to retain title

LONDON • The third act of Manchester City and Tottenham's trilogy has some living up to do, after a Champions League classic in midweek saw Spurs prevail on 4-4 on away goals to reach the semi-finals.

Pep Guardiola believes today's Premier League match at the Etihad "will be just as intense as the other day".

However, at his pre-match press conference yesterday, he admitted the heartbreaking manner of their exit - City thought they had progressed to the last four for the second time in club history only for Raheem Sterling's added-time goal to be ruled out by the video assistant referee - still stung.

The Spaniard said: "If you believe it doesn't hurt, you're wrong, but we have to live with that. The players were fantastic. We lost, but I was so proud. The performance we did was incredible.

"It's just life, it's football. Important is how you behave, football, life isn't easy, you have to fight and compete it's how we react.

"We have to accept these sort of situations, but looking behind won't help us move forward. These kind of players have an opportunity to show they can do that.

GOING FOR GOALS

Both teams will attack. We are going to attack, it won't be easy because they are an incredible top team, but we will try.

PEP GUARDIOLA, Man City manager, on the league match against Tottenham today.

"They will get back what they deserve. One day, maybe we will be in the same position, and maybe we will be more fortunate or precise or whatever to go through. We did everything in both games."

While City are still hurting after seeing their quadruple dream - a feat yet to be achieved by an English club - die at the hands of Spurs, Guardiola is fully aware his side have to refocus if they are to become the first side in a decade to retain the Premier League title.

With leaders Liverpool playing Cardiff only tomorrow, a victory will re-establish a two-point lead at the top and the 48-year-old wants his players to "compete with that feeling (of disappointment) against Spurs".

He added: "I don't want the players to forget, it will take time... it is what it is, I like to see them work hard. Try to play our game.

"I hope for our best, we have five games in the league and the FA Cup (final), so we will see. What Liverpool can do against the other teams I am not involved, I can't control."

Although City were rapped on Wednesday for being too cavalier in defence, with Aymeric Laporte enduring arguably his worst game for the club, Guardiola will not be changing his front-foot approach, nor is he expecting Spurs to sit back.

He said: "Both teams will attack. We are going to attack, it won't be easy because they are an incredible top team, but we will try."

But his players will be wary of being too gung-ho against Mauricio Pochettino's men, as forwards Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura have the ability to hurt any sloppiness - just like the other night.

And Danny Mills has made it clear to his former club that if they do not win, "the title is gone for them".

The pundit told talkSport: "This is another huge game. To raise yourself again, it's not going to be easy. The emotions would have been so, so draining... they could end up with one trophy and is that failure? It's such a fine line City tread."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2019, with the headline 'City can bounce back: Pep'. Print Edition | Subscribe