Tagged in: Pep Guardiola

Man City’s Guardiola: I won’t sleep ahead of Neymar, Mbappe meeting

Pep Guardiola stated he won’t sleep ahead of Manchester City’s Champions League semifinal with Paris Saint-Germain if he thinks too much about the threat posed by Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

City will come up versus PSG’s formidable forwards in the first leg in Paris on Wednesday and Guardiola said the pair are so good, they can give opposing managers restless nights.

“Always I believe the quality of these players, they have too much,” Guardiola told a news conference on Tuesday. “I tried to sleep well last night and that was when I was not thinking of them. Incredible top players, their quality. We are ready to try to stop them, defend as a team, play good football and try to score goals.”

Guardiola first faced Neymar when the Brazil forward was playing for Santos versus Barcelona in the Club World Cup in 2011.

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After joining Barcelona in 2013, Neymar moved on to PSG in 2017 but Guardiola said there would be more Champions League trophies in the Camp Nou trophy cabinet had he stayed.

“I remember against Santos, I said this was the king of Santos and all the players were open mouthed: ‘Oh my god, what a player,'” Guardiola added.

“A joy to watch as a spectator, he has Brazil on his shoulders, the No. 10, it’s not easy to wear.

“I’m pretty sure if he’d stayed in Barca they’d have won two or three more Champions Leagues. With Neymar, [Lionel] Messi and [Luis] Suarez, the best three I’ve seen.”

While the tie is only City’s second Champions League semifinal, PSG are trying to reach for the final for the second year in a row after narrowly losing out to Bayern Munich last campaign.

Since then, Thomas Tuchel has been replaced as manager with Mauricio Pochettino.

The former Tottenham boss has been able to get the best out of Neymar since he arrived in January, leading to speculation the 29-year-old is a candidate for the Ballon d’Or and is set to extend his contract.

“I have already talked about it [his contract],” Neymar told a news conference on Tuesday.

“It is not a topic now. I feel great. I am happy this season. It has been by far my happiest this season. “My main objective is the Champions League, not the Ballon d’Or. That is not a priority. I want to be a leader for my team. I want to win. In the future, I will want to remember I have managed to win the Champions League a few times.”

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De Bruyne lauds Pep lineup surprise in City victory

Kevin De Bruyne has admitted Manchester City players were ‘surprised’ when they learnt the line-up before the Real Madrid match on Wednesday night.

Pep Guardiola raised eyebrows by benching Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Fernandinho and David Silva, while Gabriel Jesus was pushed out wide and De Bruyne played down the middle.

De Bruyne said: ‘I think, the four years we’re here with Pep, there are some surprises [within the squad], and even the players, they don’t know before the game starts what they need to do.

‘Some [changes] were good. I think we had some lesser moments. In a quality game like this, you’re going to struggle sometimes, but I thought we really fought really well together.’

His remarks were echoed by former England goalkeeper Joe Hart, who said in the studio a conventional City line up would have beaten Madrid by more.

De Bruyne went on to hail his side’s character after they fought back from a goal down to defeat Real Madrid 2-1 at the Bernabeu, putting them in pole position to claim a quarter-final spot.

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City were dealt an early blow when they lost Aymeric Laporte and were forced to draft in Fernandinho at the back again.And a defensive error saw Isco pounce and put the hosts ahead on the 60-minute mark.

Yet Jesus equalled things up when he latched on the end of a De Bruyne cross and headed the ball past Thibaut Courtois, who many may feel should have done more.

Sterling, who came on as a substitute in the 73rd minute, made a darting run at the Madrid defence and was hacked down in the box by full back Dani Carvajal.

After City have failed to convert from the spot countless times this campaign, De Bruyne stepped up to quell fears and roll it past Courtois.

The Belgian’s spot kick made City the first English side to win in the Bernabeu for 11 years.

De Bruyne told BT Sport: ‘It’s a very good start for the first game. The first 15 minutes we struggled for a bit but you have to go through the storm.

‘It was a pretty even first half and we started the second half pretty well. The (Real) goal came at a bit of a bad moment for us because I think we were dominating at the time.

‘I thought our response was brilliant. It was a beautiful goal from Gabi and the second goal, the penalty was very important for us.

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