The 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach was enough to send City through in second place behind Barcelona but Guardiola’s side rarely reached the levels they are capable of. Their two previous away matches had seen City concede four at Barcelona and three times in a frantic draw at Celtic.
“My experience from playing in the Champions League for seven or eight years is that it is hard to win away,” said Guardiola. “There will be some big, important teams not in the Champions League. We are in the eighths of the final – the round of 16. Our boys have only reached the semi-finals once in their history.”
Guardiola emphasised that this had not been a straightforward group. “After the draw, we know how difficult it would be. I was three years in this fantastic country so I know how good Borussia Monchengladbach are. We faced the best team in Europe in Barcelona and we also had Celtic.”
Guardiola said it was not his policy to criticise referees and refused to be drawn on Fernandinho’s dismissal for what seemed a soft second yellow card. He did, however, concede that it had “changed the game” as it wiped out Manchester City’s one-man advantage when Monchengladbach’s captain, Lars Stindl, charged into Nicolas Otamendi and was sent off in the 50th minute.
“We started with control but no pressure but after we scored a goal I was so happy with our mentality,” he said. “The decision to send off Fernandinho changed the result and it was a good result for both teams.”
Guardiola has long argued that Liverpool and Chelsea’s absence from European football gives them a significant advantage in the Premier League. He will field a virtual reserve side for the final, dead game against Celtic and when asked if the next three months without the Champions League would even things up domestically, Guardiola smiled and said: “We will see.
“It does look better for us because we have a week to prepare for games like the other teams. If we play like we did in the opening minutes here, we will lose in the Premier League. If we don’t, we might win but we are going to be fresh.
“I don’t think it is a disadvantage that we have not finished first in the group. Bayern Munich, like us, are in second and whoever will play Bayern Munich will suffer.”Reuse content