| 20°C Dublin

City must seize this chance to conquer Europe, says Guardiola

Close

Pep Guardiola: 'If we think about the next step, the king of this competition, Real Madrid, will put us out.' Photo: Getty Images

Pep Guardiola: 'If we think about the next step, the king of this competition, Real Madrid, will put us out.' Photo: Getty Images

Getty Images

Pep Guardiola: 'If we think about the next step, the king of this competition, Real Madrid, will put us out.' Photo: Getty Images

Pep Guardiola has urged his Manchester City side to prove they are a "big club" by seizing what he says is a unique opportunity to end the wait for European Cup glory.

City will be the favourites to reach a Champions League quarter-final against Juventus or Lyon when Real Madrid visit the Etihad Stadium on August 7 for the second leg of their round-of-16 tie.

Guardiola's side hold a 2-1 advantage from the Bernabeu in February, but while the City manager has warned they will crash out if they think the job is already done against the 13-time European Cup winners, he believes the competition's rearranged format and the make-up of his squad offers a chance "that is not coming back again".

If City overcome Real and then beat Juventus or Lyon in the last eight, they would face one of Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Barcelona or Napoli in the semi-final. The quarter-finals and semi-finals will be played over one leg as a result of Covid-19, with the final in Lisbon on August 23.

Motivation

Chelsea's hopes of a quarter-final place hinge on them overturning a 3-0 first-leg deficit away to Bayern.

"I feel the motivation and I think the team is there," Guardiola said. "I have the feeling that my players and the organisation that we have in the next four weeks is something that is not coming back again.

"Of course, we have the chance to fight, but the situation that we have is not coming back again. I think the big clubs don't miss these chances to try until the last effort they have in their bodies."

It will represent the last shot at Champions League success for David Silva before the 34-year-old midfielder leaves City next month, and Guardiola hopes his career at the club can end on a high.

"David has won everything - World Cup, European Championships with Spain and the Premier League and all the titles you can achieve except the Champions League," he said. "All of them they want to try [to win it], but the younger ones maybe think they have more chances."

It remains to be seen if Sergio Aguero will play any part in City's quest. The striker underwent knee surgery last month and Guardiola confirmed the player would not be back in time for the Real game.

Guardiola is demanding total focus on Real, though, as he refused to discuss the prospect of a quarter-final. "We have to play against Madrid. If we think about the next step, the king of this competition, Real Madrid, will put us out."

City are due to discover at 9.30am on Monday if they have won their appeal against a two-season European ban when the Court of Arbitration for Sport returns its verdict, and Guardiola is optimistic.

"I'm so confident because I know and hear the arguments of the club, next season we will be there and after I will give my opinion and the club will give a statement," he said.

Kevin De Bruyne, the City midfielder, said in May that he would be forced to consider his future at the club if the ban was upheld. However, reports in Belgium yesterday suggested De Bruyne would not agitate for a move if City's worst fears were realised, and raised questions about who could afford the 29-year-old in the current climate.

With Silva departing, De Bruyne is favourite to be City's next captain, though Guardiola said that would be a decision for the players.

© Daily Telegraph, London

  • Brighton v Manchester City, Live, Sky One/Sky Sports, 8.0

Telegraph.co.uk