Football: Like 'teacher' Pep Guardiola, Hoffenheim boss willing to take risks

Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann will be hoping to outwit his Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola.
Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann will be hoping to outwit his Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SINSHEIM (Germany) • Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann is plotting to outsmart his idol Pep Guardiola when Manchester City attempt to get their Champions League campaign back on track by winning in Germany today.

The 31-year-old is the youngest coach in Champions League history and has admitted to being a keen student of Guardiola's methods.

Now Nagelsmann hopes to thwart the Spanish tactician in what will be a historic event - the club's first Champions League match at home.

"I don't know if it's always an advantage to know Pep Guardiola, because then you know that he is doing so much the right way or the best way," said the German.

"It's not very easy to say exactly how he will set up his team. He has different ways to play against different opponents."

The English champions are aiming to bounce back from their shock 2-1 loss at home to Lyon in their Group F opener, while Hoffenheim drew their first game 2-2 at Shakhtar Donetsk.

On the domestic front, the Bundesliga side have made a slow start to the new season, suffering their third loss in six league games when they lost 2-1 at home on Saturday to RB Leipzig, who Nagelsmann will coach next season.

City, on the other hand, are top of the English Premier League table on goal difference from Liverpool.

There are elements to Nagelsmann's aggressive style which echo that of Guardiola, whose City team also like to press their opponents in their own half.

Neither coach is afraid to take risks in selection or switch tactics mid-match and Nagelsmann is seen as a rising star in German football, having turned Hoffenheim from relegation contenders to Champions League qualifiers within two seasons of taking charge in 2016.

While his dream is to get one over Guardiola, Nagelsmann is also aware that City's Leroy Sane needs no extra incentive to perform on home soil following his shock axing from Germany's World Cup squad, who crashed out in Russia in the first round for the first time in 80 years.

While Sane's start to the new campaign has been slow after being dropped for City's first four league games of the season, the Young Player of the Year has come back into form, with three assists and one goal in as many games since.

"Leroy has played really good the last few games," said Guardiola after Saturday's 2-0 win over Brighton, in which Sane set up Raheem Sterling's opener.

With club-record scorer Sergio Aguero an injury doubt for today's meeting, Sane looks set to play a starring role as City seek to reassert their tags as group favourites.

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HOFFENHEIM V MANCHESTER CITY

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2018, with the headline 'Like 'teacher' Pep, Hoffenheim boss willing to take risks'. Print Edition | Subscribe