Pep Guardiola not convinced City are clinical enough in Europe

‘So far we haven’t been very strong in the box,’ says manager ahead of Atalanta clash

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola during the Premier League clash with Crystal Palace. Photo: Ian Walton/Reuters

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola during the Premier League clash with Crystal Palace. Photo: Ian Walton/Reuters

 

Champions League Group C: Manchester City v Atalanta

Kick-off: 8pm. Venue: Etihad Stadium. On TV: Live on BT Sport and Virgin Media One.

Pep Guardiola has pointed to Manchester City’s Champions League quarter-final defeat to Tottenham last season as evidence that they must be more clinical if they are to become European champions for the first time in their history.

City host Atalanta in Tuesday’s third Group C game having claimed a maximum six points so far. Yet after the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, the manager stated his team were “not ready” to claim a first European Cup for the club, City having failed to move beyond the quarter-finals under him. It was put to Guardiola that this may seem odd given the £500m spend he has overseen in the squad since becoming manager in summer 2016.

He said: “I answered this question so many times. We are going to try. If we don’t win, we will try again next year. I never played one game as a player or manager thinking I cannot win. At the same time, I played every game thinking I can’t lose so I don’t know. We try from day one until the last day.”

To underline his point that City can be profligate in the penalty box, Guardiola referred back to the defeat to Tottenahm in the last eight as an example of how his side has to be more focused.

Improve

“Thinking, knowing what is dangerous is dangerous, being clinical, a good mentality to score goals, defend of course and that is why we have to improve,” he said. “I think in the Champions League teams don’t have 20 chances. You have chances and the players know you have to play good to create a lot of chances. After that, we have to be strong up front. When we have one against one, against the keeper in the six-yard box and the penalty box, we have to score. If not it is more difficult in this competition against teams from the top level.

Guardiola added: “I am very confident and have got full trust in my team. So far we haven’t been very strong in the box. We have made a number of mistakes we shouldn’t make at this level. Two times in the Champions League we went out on goal difference [against Tottenham Hotspur and Monaco] and in both games we conceded a lot of goals. In this competition, you play against incredible players and if you give some team in one moment a metre, they will score. We have to know that. These little margins are sometimes the difference and we’re working on that. I believe that kind of situation is about the mentality. For example, we scored four here against Tottenham [last season], five goals against Monaco [three seasons ago], but we conceded a lot.” – Guardian

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