Champions League

Guardiola urges Man City to draw on Newport win at Schalke

2019-02-19 22:56
Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola (Getty Images)

Guardiola's high-flying City arrived in Germany as overwhelming favourites to win Wednesday's last 16, first leg clash at Schalke's Veltins Arena.

While City top the Premier League on goal difference from Liverpool, Schalke are enduring a dreadful season, winless in their last four league games and not far from the Bundesliga's relegation places.

City ground out a 4-1 win at fourth-tier minnows Newport County last Saturday, overcoming a boggy Rodney Parade pitch and a plucky performance by the hosts to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

They can expect a much smoother surface in Gelsenkirchen, but Guardiola wants his star-studded team to show the same class displayed in south Wales.

"We need to be ourselves," said Guardiola at City's pre-match press conference in Essen, near Gelsenkirchen.

"I want to see (the same) how we played in Newport, we need to show the charisma and personality to win away on these big stages.

"You can't go through if you aren't yourself and aren't playing your best performances - (if) you want to dream a lot and get through in the knock-out stages, then you have to impose your game.

"It's a challenge and we are delighted to face it."

Defender John Stones has been left in Manchester with a groin problem while Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus also misses out after hurting his hamstring at Newport.

City have won five and lost five of their last 11 Champions League games and Guardiola is under pressure to reach the latter stages having lost to Liverpool in last season's quarter-finals and bowed out to Monaco in the last 16 in 2016/17.  

"The first season it was made clear it was a big fail to not win the Champions League," said Guardiola, with City still involved in four competitions.

"It's a special tournament, you have to suffer and survive the bad moments, but we are confident, we have arrived here with many good dreams in our heads and we feel confidence."

In his three seasons as Bayern Munich coach, Guardiola never lost to Schalke with four wins and two draws from six meetings, but the Spaniard is choosing to ignore the hosts' poor recent league form.

"I think the quality is there, Schalke are always fighting, the expectations are high," said Guardiola.

However, the City boss offered a tongue-in-cheek reply when asked whether Schalke have a chance.

"When you compare where they are in the leagues, Manchester City has to win - how much? Four, five (goals)? That is not going to happen my friend," Guardiola told reporters.

"It’s a completely different competition and it's tough, real tough. We have to play well and try to finish the job in Manchester.

"I feel sure they think they can play well, in front of their fans at home in their own stadium.

"Anything can change in seconds. I have played three or four times in this stadium with Bayern and it was always complicated."

"We will try to impose our game and try to score goals - we need at least one away goal."


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