Relentless ethos is all Pep demands

On course for historic quadruple, City poised to continue winning form against Gladbach

Gladbach forward Ibrahima Traore (from far left) and his teammates Alassane Plea, Marcus Thuram and Denis Zakaria will have their work cut out for them against Manchester City's backline that conceded just one goal in the Champions League group stage
Gladbach forward Ibrahima Traore (from left) and his teammates Alassane Plea, Marcus Thuram and Denis Zakaria will have their work cut out for them against Manchester City's backline that conceded just one goal in the Champions League group stages.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Manchester City will not change their approach for today's Champions League last-16, first-leg encounter with Borussia Monchengladbach but cannot get complacent, manager Pep Guardiola warned yesterday.

The Premier League leaders are on an 18-game winning streak in all competitions - the best run of any club in Europe's "Big Five" leagues.

Unsurprisingly, they are firm favourites against Gladbach, whose outgoing coach Marco Rose has called City "arguably the best team currently in the world".

However, Guardiola has insisted his side must show the German side, who are eighth in the Bundesliga, the respect they deserve.

"We're going to prepare it like a normal game and we're going to tell the players what Gladbach are as a team like we have done against Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton," he added.

"We're not going to change anything, just adapt for what they are. We're not used to playing against them. They must know what they are individually and play a good game to try to get a good result like we have done so far.

"We chase a lot of competitions. We played two days ago, we arrived late from London and now have a long trip... We have to be focused on what we have to do."

While City are on course to become the first English club to win the quadruple - they are the only side still fighting on four fronts - Gladbach are floundering domestically, trailing world champions and Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich (49) by 16 points.

But Guardiola is aware of the threat they pose on the counter - the pace their opponents have up front through Marcus Thuram and Alassane Plea ensured they finished second in Group B above the likes of Inter Milan, who currently lead Serie A.

"They make a good build-up with short passes and can contact with their fast strikers with transitions," the City boss said. "All teams deserve incredible respect and hopefully they respect us as well. We'll try to get a good result for the second leg."

The match will be played in Budapest with the fixture having been moved due to Covid-19 travel restrictions between Germany and Britain.

Barring Nathan Ake, Guardiola has a full squad available for selection and Rose, who last week announced he would leave in the summer to become Borussia Dortmund's new coach, admitted his side were clear underdogs.

Claiming they had nothing to lose as this was their first time playing a Champions League knockout tie, the German said yesterday: "I don't need to motivate our players. When you play as Gladbach in the Champions League round of 16 against Manchester City, then you can only win from such a game.

"It is a huge thing for the club to be in this competition and we have always said we want to prove ourselves. City have world-class players on all positions.

"The boys should go out and enjoy it tomorrow evening, that should be part of it. But they also have to be at their maximum to show what they can do."

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MONCHENGLADBACH V MAN CITY

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2021, with the headline 'Relentless ethos is all Pep demands'. Subscribe