Pep Guardiola in relaxed mood as Manchester City look to seal semi-final berth
‘After 27 victories in 29 games, if I don’t trust the players we have a big, big problem’
Pep Guardiola has yet to make it past the quarter-final stages of the Champions League with Manchester City. Photograph: Rui Vieira/AFP via Getty Images
Champions League quarter-final, 2nd Leg: Borussia Dortmund (1) v Manchester City (2), Signal Iduna Park, Wednesday, 8pm – Live Virgin Sport Extra 1/BT Sport 3
Pep Guardiola admits to being unsure whether Manchester City are now better equipped to handle difficult moments in the Champions League quarter-final second leg at Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday but stated he would be “crazy” not to trust his players after 27 wins from the past 29 games.
City hold a 2-1 advantage as they seek to progress to the semi-finals for the first time under Guardiola. The manager’s team have been knocked out at this stage in the past three seasons: by Liverpool (5-1 on aggregate), Tottenham (4-4, on away goals) and Lyon (3-1).
Guardiola was asked about the comments of Ilkay Gündogan, who referenced the mistakes made in those ties, and how Wednesday’s match may show whether City can now deal better with setbacks.
“About controlling emotions, what happens in the game, many circumstances happen,” Guardiola said. “I don’t know. They are human beings – people forget about it – and human beings have feelings and situations happen. After 27 victories in 29 games, if I don’t trust the players we have a big, big problem. I would be crazy.
“Tomorrow we can win or we can lose; I don’t know what’s going to happen. But [if I don’t trust them whatever happens] you should kill me, that’s for sure. What we’ve done so far, we deserve to be in the position we are right now.”
A relaxed Guardiola did not directly answer when asked how great a mental test the second leg would be. “I would say it’s a pleasure to be here again,” he said. “Next season we’ll be here again [too] because we have already qualified for the next Champions League. We’ve prepared these last two days. We are looking forward. Many things can happen, nothing is guaranteed. We have a good result from the first game.”
Gündogan urged the team to be calm. “We need to learn that it is normal to struggle,” the midfielder said. “Playing against the best teams in Europe it is normal. Maybe it is something we are not used to – going behind and conceding or struggling because we are used to dominating games and having possession, but it is completely normal in the Champions League to struggle.
“In the first leg [against Tottenham in 2019] we conceded a goal but still had 12 minutes to play [losing 1-0] so dealing with that situation is something we might need to learn still. These stages will show it now but it is something we need to accept.”
Sergio Agüero remains injured but Aymeric Laporte is available again.
Jadon Sancho has been ruled out of the game against his former club. The England winger is back in training after six weeks out with a thigh injury but the match on Wednesday comes too soon.
The Dortmund interim coach Edin Terzic said: “Jadon won’t be at our disposal, although he trained again. He is doing his best to return as fast as possible and we would like to have him with us tomorrow but he won’t be. We have to take our time with him, so he is not an option for tomorrow, but we hope it won’t last much longer for him before he comes back into the team.”
Dortmund also have doubts over the experienced pair Marco Reus – goalscorer in the first leg – and the World Cup winner Mats Hummels.
Terzic said: “There are a few players slightly injured. We will have to wait. Reus and Hummels needed to be substituted and leave the pitch on Saturday. We have another training session and we will see who will be at our disposal.”
Erling Haaland is likely to be key to Dortmund’s hopes of turning the tie around. The 20-year-old Norwegian has not scored in his past six games for club or country but Terzic does not think continued speculation over the player’s future is affecting his game.
“Even if he hasn’t scored in these last matches he is an important, key player for us. He can cause difficulties for our opponents. As we saw in the last matches, especially in the second half against Stuttgart, he did a great job. It is important that he scores goals and he is the key player for us.” – Guardian