Guardiola charts European progress


Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has joked that he could throw caution to the wind to finish Leipzig in the Champions League by fielding “nine forwards”.

City were held to a 1-1 draw in Germany on Wednesday in the first leg of their last 16 with Riyad Mahrez’s opener canceled out by a Josko Gvardiol header.

“I didn’t want to come here and lose 4-3. It will have to be more open in Manchester,” said Guardiola, who coached Bayern Munich to Bundesliga titles in each of his three years in Germany and said that City “couldn’t compete”. “with the speed of the German teams.

“We don’t have the team to compete with them with a lot of transitions, they are better than us and they are faster than us except Kyle (Walker) and Erling (Haaland).

“The pace they have, we don’t.”

Guardiola added: “Maybe in the second leg I’ll be crazy and decide to play with nine forwards. But I’ve been coaching in this country and analyzing Leipzig and I needed that kind of control. “

The City manager gathered his team on the pitch for an impromptu motivational session after the final whistle in a bid to cheer them up.

“They had their heads down, I told them ‘Why do you put your heads down, raise your heads’,” the Spanish coach said in the post-match press conference.

“It was a really good game that you played. If people don’t like it, that’s okay, you played the game the way it should.”

The City manager said the Champions League ‘used to be quite easy’ but is now ‘such a demanding competition’.

“All teams in all leagues are really strong.”

Leipzig coach Marco Rose has revealed how his half-time conversation, which ‘started quietly and ended a bit stronger’, prompted his players to stop ‘playing the City game’ .

“I told them ‘what are you doing, going into a game like this and holding on deep – that wasn’t the plan.

Rose said he was confident ahead of the second leg in Manchester on March 14 but admitted “to go to City we would rather have a 3-0 advantage to feel better”.

“We can take a lot out of the game not to be able to play another first half like we did today.”

Gvardiol ‘will remain a Leipzig player’

RB Leipzig manager Marco Rose has said wanted centre-back Josko Gvardiol “is our player and will remain our player”.

Gvardiol headed Leipzig’s second-half equalizer and also kept City star Erling Haaland in check on an unfortunate night for the Norwegian striker.

In his second season at Leipzig since leaving Dynamo Zagreb, Gvardiol’s form for Leipzig, as well as his performances at the World Cup for Croatia, have reportedly made him a target for several European clubs.

Gvardiol was recently quoted in German media saying ‘I could be out the door after Christopher (Nkunku)’ in reference to the French striker’s reported deal with Chelsea.

Rose, however, dismissed speculation the defender could move to the Premier League, saying ‘headlines don’t seem to bother him’.

“He is an RB Leipzig player, I think he will remain an RB Leipzig player.

“In the story he said that about Christopher, but he laughed – of course in the newspaper you don’t see the laughter.

“He said he liked it here and felt comfortable here. As a coach you want to work with the best players.”

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