Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has spoken to the media ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League clash against BSC Young Boys at the Etihad Stadium.
The defending Champions League holders can secure qualification to the knockout stages of this year’s competition on Tuesday evening, with a victory over BSC Young Boys in matchday four of Group G.
Manchester City currently top their UEFA Champions League group after three successive 3-1 victories, over Red Star Belgrade at the Etihad Stadium, RB Leipzig in Germany, and BSC Young Boys in Bern, Switzerland last time out.
Pep Guardiola’s side overcame the Swiss club at the Wankdorf Stadium in Bern last month, scoring three second-half goals to secure a 3-1 victory, after Manuel Akanji opened the scoring and Erling Haaland netted a brace.
Erling Haaland was forced off at half-time during Manchester City’s Premier League win over Bournemouth on Saturday due to an ankle injury, with the Blues thumping the Cherries 6-1 at the Etihad Stadium.
The Norwegian international could still be in contention to feature in midweek, however Manchester City also face upcoming crucial clashes against Chelsea and Liverpool in the Premier League.
Erling Haaland’s fitness was amongst the topic of discussion at the City Football Academy on Monday, as Pep Guardiola addressed the media ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League clash.
On Erling Haaland’s fitness
“I can’t (give you an update). He trains this afternoon so I don’t know. We’ll speak with the doctors. Yesterday he said he feels much better, but I don’t know.”
On the secret behind Manchester City’s home form
“We don’t think about that. We think about the next game and how to try to win. We feel more comfortable to play with our people, the size of the locker room. We have had a good experience at home in the last few years. That gives us a lot of confidence, but every time you have to win it again and again. We are yet to draw or lose at home, which is an exceptional situation.”
On Josko Gvardiol
“We knew he was an incredible person. He can play at centre-back, full-back. Defensively and offensively – he’s incredibly open minded about what we want to do. He’s an incredible professional so we’re really pleased. He has experienced already playing in the World Cup and European cup. He won two Pokals in Germany, he is a regular in his national team. So he has a lot of experience aged 21.”
On Manchester City’s Champions League group stage consistency and the possibility of qualifying for the knock-out stages for the 11th consecutive season
“Incredible. Tomorrow we will try to finish and qualify for February and the next stage. It means a lot to the club, from (Manuel) Pellegrini’s side and (Roberto) Mancini. Being there is a success. We try to be calm and review the game (against BSC Young Boys in Bern). We struggled after 1-1. Every time we lose the ball, they counter attack really well.”
On the standard of officiating in the Premier League vs the Champions League
“There is a little bit of difference. For example, handball. A few things, but I don’t know… I have the feeling in every country there is confusion about things. Emotions after the game, feelings are so, so high. It’s difficult to handle it – I’m talking about me, not Mikel Arteta or any other manager. We cannot talk to the fourth officials, we cannot do anything. It didn’t change much from last season.”
On whether this is the worst standard of officiating he has seen since coming to the Premier League
“I don’t know, it is such a sensitive issue right now. What happened in many games. It’s difficult for the referee and us too.”
On whether Manchester City have an angry changing room
“No, the mood is the best we’ve had in many years. For many years I’ve never had such an incredible, lovely group of people. The amount of sadness of players not playing is understandable, but it’s really good. I enjoy this group of players.”
On whether he will rotate his Manchester City squad if they qualify early for the Champions League knock-out stages
“No, we will try to finish first. That definitely is better. One game at a time. Tomorrow we have Young Boys then we go to Chelsea. Of course we have one or two chances if we don’t qualify tomorrow. If you have the chance in front our people, we have to do it.”
On starting Jeremy Doku on the right
“No, I’m not planning that. He can do it. Versus Young Boys, he passed, crossed and Erling (Haaland) missed it. We did the same with Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane. It’s just so far, Jeremy (Doku) on the left has been, ‘Wow’.
“He is so young, 21, for his skills and ability using both sides, I don’t see many using both sides. He can add a next level. I would love in the next years that he can make that step to become a better player. There are a thousand million games. Jeremy cannot play all games. We try to rotate, always I’ve done it. They have to say, ‘I have to play good’.”
On whether this is a chance to rest Erling Haaland
“I will see (if he plays) Tuesday or Sunday, he will have a lot of games to cover.”
On whether Julian Alvarez can push up if Erling Haaland is unavailable
“Right now, yeah he can push up. He can play both, I am very pleased.”
On the FIFA Club World Cup
“It’s hard. I have been there three times before. The first game is so tricky. People talk about the final. We will go there and prepare. The club doesn’t have that trophy so sometimes the players sometimes talk about that in the locker room.”
On BSC Young Boys
“I’m pretty sure my colleague has seen the game. When you play the same opponent in Champions League, you can misunderstand what really happened. The pitch was difficult in some moments (at the Wankdorf Stadium), for them as well. I had a good impression while I was there. I have a lot of respect for them.
“Hopefully we will have the right energy. Normally at home we play well, have good spirit and tone. Tomorrow hopefully we can be patient. They do really well with the strikers and the wingers. They are tall strikers, it’s tough to beat them in those positions. We have to adapt quick to do our process and be aggressive in the final third.
“When we have the chance to qualify, we have to take it. I didn’t watch their last game, I have time tomorrow morning. We are so busy here!”
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