Sunday 22 July 2018

'The best ever' - Man City boss Pep Guardiola dedicates Man City win to Catalan independence movement

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: PA
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: PA
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola made a somewhat unfathomable claim after his side secured a tense 2-1 Champions League win against Napoli at the Etihad Stadium.

The two-time Champions League winning manager has taken on some of Europe's best teams over the course of his decorated coaching career, yet he bizarrely suggested his latest opponents were the best team he had ever seen in post match comments that may be put down to the euphoria of victory.

Goals from Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus paved the way for a win that leaves City on the brink of qualification for the knock-out stages with two games to spare, with Guardiola offering up these gushing words for his opponents.

"Napoli is an exceptional team. One of the best teams I have ever faced in my career, no doubts about that, maybe the best," said an elated Guardiola. "This was was perfect. If we don't play good we cannot beat that team, it's impossible.

“This is one of the proudest victories of my career, I am so, so proud of my players tonight. We knew it was going to be so, so tough.

"It was an amazing game. Outstanding. Both wanted to play against high pressing. If you are not aggressive without the ball you have no chance to survive.

“We made a good first half, 30-35 minutes. We scored the two goals. We could have made the third or fourth. After that we were a bit tired, we couldn’t finish our counter-attacks and we arrive late for our pressing.

“They have the big ability to make short passes inside and outside, that is why I’m so proud. They are one of the best teams I have ever faced. I think it was an extraordinary game from both sides.

“We will see if we can play better for longer when we go to Naples in a fortnight. What I liked best is we managed to control the ball, keep possession, but sometimes if you get distracted, they are incredibly quick. They can break with a lot of speed, as they showed in this game.

"Now the situation is that we go to the next game and try to win that. We are close but it is not already done. We need one more victory to qualify."

Guardiola then used his post match press conference to make a political statement, as he dedicated the City win to those pushing for independence in Catalonia, in comments that will get a big reaction in Spain.

“This win is dedicated to them,” added Guardiola. “We have shown in Catalonia that citizenship is bigger than any ideas. We hope they will be released soon.”

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