Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has spoken to the media ahead of Tuesday night’s UEFA Champions League clash with RB Leipzig at the Etihad Stadium.
Manchester City play host to their final Champions League group stage game of the 2023/24 campaign, knowing that victory over the Bundesliga giants would ensure their title as group winners heading into the last-16 draw.
Pep Guardiola and his reigning European champions booked their place in the knock-out stages of the competition on matchweek four, having defeated BSC Young Boys 3-0 at the Etihad Stadium in what was their fourth successive victory in the group this season.
Erling Haaland recorded multiple goals once again in UEFA Champions League competition as he scored twice on the night, with one goal coming from the penalty spot, whilst Phil Foden wrapped up the scoring on a dominant evening where the visitors failed to record a shot.
Manchester City take a break from Premier League action this week after their 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Saturday afternoon, with the spoils shared against Jurgen Klopp’s side after a 4-4 draw with Chelsea prior to the international break.
The clash with RB Leipzig comes at a crucial time for Pep Guardiola and his players, preceding a huge showdown with Ange Postecoglou’s men at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, with Spurs hoping to continue their bright start to the campaign at a difficult point in their form.
Looking ahead to the visit of RB Leipzig to the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night, here is every word from Pep Guardiola speaking to the media at the City Football Academy on Monday afternoon!
On Terry Venables
“As a Barcelona fan, he gave us the La Liga after 11, 12 years. His impact was incredible there, introduced something never before. A certain type of pressing and the set pieces – how many goals the centre back scored. A true gentleman, people live with him.
“I was a ball boy, I just gave balls to his players. Unfortunately he couldn’t win the Champions League in that time against Steaua (Bucharest). A big loss for English football, thoughts to his family. I read a lot about how many players talk about him, really impressed.”
“In that time I was 13, 14 (years-old), the first time I saw us win the La Liga, many years not possible. The impact in that short time, it was not long, but the impact in the way they played – I remember talking to friends of mine who played with him.
“Not just as a manager, but as a person so funny. In programmes, singing and dancing. A proper man. I’m so sorry for his family.”
On Manchester City’s statue unveiling on Tuesday
“(It) Shows how good this club is, three legendary persons. Mike Summerbee will be there and will be satisfied, not just for him but for (Colin) Bell and (Francis) Lee. Perfect for all the families. How many clubs don’t do this, we are fortunate to do it for them.”
On whether he will field a strong team against RB Leipzig
“We have to win or draw. The first step is done for both sides, congratulations Leipzig. Important to finish first, prestigious and second leg of last 16 at home. Not decisive, but a little advantage.”
On the impact of Terry Venables on him
“Not much, I was 13 so not thinking I would get to play for Barcelona and not for a second to be a manager. I see the game like they run a lot, pressing, set pieces. So physical team and changed shapes. I thought how fun is my club winning games. After I learn it, I saw Gary Neville and Gary Lineker, and (Gareth) Southgate, you realise the impact was important.”
On Manchester City’s team news ahead of RB Leipzig
“We have training so we’ll see this afternoon. Second day of recovery so we won’t do anything. I’m not optimistic about good news. We will see this afternoon. I think the same people as Liverpool. John Stones is getting better. Not to play, maybe a few minutes. (He is) Really close to coming back.”
On whether injuries will mean a change of style to playing more direct
“The style is Jeremy (Doku) one vs one, the skills. I don’t think we were, the quality for some players can be more direct. Kevin (De Bruyne) and (Ilkay) Gundo(gan), we were more direct. It’s similar, we’re performing really well. We’re not top of the league but I’m really impressed with performances.
“I’d say if I wasn’t satisfied. Against Chelsea, it was really good, the transitions, they were really good. Our transitions were poor, our pressing wasn’t effective. We create a lot of chances, all respect. In general I’m pleased.”
On keeping fewer clean sheets this season
“The only game we conceded a lot of goals and chances was (against) Chelsea. The rest is the same average as last season. Like Liverpool; conceded two shots on target, Wolves; one shot on target. Our average is good. I give credit to Chelsea, not just our mistakes. The rest is similar.”
On Kevin De Bruyne’s return
“If he said (he will be back in) January, it’s January. I’d love to have him for more of the season. If he says, it’s a happy new year for everyone.”
On whether Kevin De Bruyne will have benefitted from a break
“I don’t think so, I think he prefers to be with us. Football, he is not 21 anymore. Time runs (out), unfortunately he is injured and has to recover well, prepare well and we’re not expecting after one week to be perfect. Step by step, to have him from the beginning, the bench, always a good weapon. I won’t discover the quality of Kevin (De Bruyne).”
On Josko Gvardiol’s start to life at Manchester City
“I don’t have more than incredible words to (say about) him. How he settled, he’s incredible like Mateo (Kovacic) and Matheus (Nunes), Oscar Bobb arrives top. (It’s) Not easy to change the value. He plays to a high standard. Sometimes I move, Manu (Akanji) or Ruben (Dias) didn’t play, he plays with Nathan (Ake).
“So important, Nathan cannot play every three days. Important for the game in Leipzig, unbelievable. Of course he can play centre-back, we make the build up with three. I have Nathan and Josko (Gvardiol) on the left side as the build up as a central defender. Defending, is more a full-back. I discovered him three years ago playing full-back.”
On whether he will stay longer at Manchester City with a new-look team
“I have energy. I’m not going to answer that. Of course, I can leave tomorrow. One year is a long time in football. I arrived with long hair and look what happened.”
“I would love to have the team with 100 points to stay eternally. Time runs and when one player arrives and accepts one position, have standards, players from behind and push and drop. Doesn’t accept the position, sometimes stay, sometimes move. It’s normal. Even for them it is fresh to listen, not that main reason for the fact I cannot stay.”
On the atmosphere at the Etihad Stadium
“The stadium is always full, we have to play as best as possible, create as much to energise the people. I had the feeling the team is playing really good, a few moments against Liverpool to take some tips for tomorrow. Many things we’ve done well. These players have done for many years, we love to do it together.
“The games last season, important games, against Arsenal for the Premier League, they were there. We need that, my humble opinion – to be success we need our fans. Thank you so much, without them not possible to be here. Together we are stronger, for them to be part of our game is much better and we feel they are there. We play better. We have to do the first steps all the time. Tomorrow hopefully they can come and enjoy the game.”
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