Wednesday 21 August 2019

'That is a better position, to be in the semi-finals' - Pep Guardiola sees no advantage from Champions League exit

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

Andy Hampson

Pep Guardiola does not think Manchester City have been helped in their Premier League title push by their Champions League elimination.

While Liverpool must play a two-legged semi-final against Barcelona during their domestic run-in, City no longer have to worry about midweek games.

Some might suggest the lack of fixture congestion would aid City as they bid to see off the Merseysiders in a tight title race but Guardiola feels the opposite is true.

City's quarter-final exit has meant a change of routine for a side that have played a lot of midweek fixtures due to their progress to the finals of both domestic cups.

City boss Guardiola said: "When that happens in November, December, January, February that helps a lot. That happened for Liverpool. In that period it was better for Liverpool than us.

"But to be involved in the Champions League semi-finals - you are not tired. You do not feel any pain. That is a better position to be in, to be in the semi-finals.

"The toughest months in this competition are December, January, February when they had two weeks in training camps and we had to be here playing every three days. That is a big advantage for the opponent."

City bounced back from their agonising Champions League defeat to Tottenham by beating the same side in the Premier League and then winning a tense derby at Manchester United in midweek.

Guardiola feels this response underlined City's champion qualities.

He said: "The most incredible thing was that we beat Tottenham at home three days after the defeat in the Champions League. They showed me the character, the personality and the team we are.

"They don't have to do anything else to convince me. They want to win this title. If they didn't, we wouldn't have done what we have done."

City have their fate in their own hands but the pressure is back on them to win at Burnley on Sunday after Liverpool moved back to the top with victory over Huddersfield on Friday.

Guardiola says there can be no room for complacency against a Clarets side that regularly make it hard for visitors at Turf Moor.

Guardiola said: "It is always difficult because of the way they play. They play in a special way.

"It is the end of the season, the last games, and everyone feels the pressure to win the games. We are going to prepare for what we have to do to try to control Burnley's strong points."

PA Media

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