Thursday 19 April 2018

Pep Guardiola jokes at Cristiano Ronaldo's expense after knocking out Benfica

Bayern Munich's coach Pep Guardiola
Bayern Munich's coach Pep Guardiola

Mark Critchley

Pep Guardiola has said ‘sorry’ to Cristiano Ronaldo after his Bayern Munich side knocked out Benfica, the Real Madrid forward’s preferred Champions League semi-final opponents.

The former Barcelona head coach saw goals from Arturo Vidal and Thomas Muller in a 2-2 draw at the Stadium of Light seal a 3-2 aggregate victory and qualification for the last four.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 quarter-final win over Wolfsburg on Tuesday to turn a 2-0 first leg deficit around and, having qualified for the semi-finals, said he would like to face Benfica, the champions of his native Portugal.

"I know that Cristiano would have liked Benfica in the semi-finals, I am sorry for him," Guardiola joked in Wednesday’s post-match press conference.

Manchester City and Atletico Madrid make up the tournament’s final four alongside Bayern and Real and 45-year-old coach told reporters that, ahead of Friday’s draw, he has no preferred opponent.

"It's normal that Ronaldo would have wanted to play Benfica as he is Portuguese,” Guardiola added. “Manchester City are a possibility, so are Real [Madrid] and Atletico.

"We are happy to be here and will play anyone."

Guardiola, who has agreed to become Manchester City’s head coach from the end of the season, could face his future employers in the last four or potentially the final.

If City finish fifth or lower in the Premier League and then meet Bayern in the final, victory for Guardiola mean denying himself Champions League football next season.

The semi-final first legs will be held on April 26 and 27 before the second legs are played on May 3 and 4.

Independent News Service

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