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Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City should not be considered Champions League favourites

Guardiola does not think his team should be considered favourites

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Sunday 09 December 2018 18:34 GMT
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says the team are not the 'Invincibles'

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are not favourites for the Champions League because of the “unpredictability” of football, pointing to how vulnerable his team were to one attack in the 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at the weekend.

The Catalan did say he was proud his team still played their style, insisting they dominated all but 10 minutes of the match, and said losing that way is a “good lesson” for everyone at the club.

The champions had completely dominated the first half of their trip to Stamford Bridge on Saturday, only to suddenly get exposed by a quick break and N’Golo Kante goal, before David Luiz sealed the Chelsea win with a late header. Guardiola argued it showed why it’s wrong to talk of his side as favourites for Europe’s premier trophy.

“When the people say Champions League, Champions League, we are not favourites because of that reason,” the City boss said. “At that level, you need nothing to score a goal and they scored and that’s why it’s so unpredictable.

“But that level is this. The only thing we can try to ensure is play the way we do, with personality, try to do that and we did it.”

Asked were his side the better team, Guardiola said: “Except ten minutes of the match but that can’t win and congratulations to Chelsea for the victory.

“But you can’t imagine what it feels like to be a manager to see my team at this stage and play the way we played. We were incredible. Better than last season from when we won here. The first half we had chances and we cannot expect to have a lot of chances against a team like Chelsea. We didn’t concede absolutely anything, maybe a few.

“We are the same team. We scored 100 goals last season and when we analyse the result, the result is easy to do. They won, congratulations, they got three points and we didn’t get anything but we don’t have any regrets. It’s so emotional for me and the day we lose, we lose in that way.

“You don’t have to tell me how competitive this league is. It’s you and your analysts that keep saying we are invincible, that we are perfect, how good we are and that in February we are going to win the league.

“You said that. All of you. Not the manager, not any player, not the club. What happened last season was because we were incredible, incredible.

“But after that, when everybody wants to beat us, being in the position that we are, playing a lot of games in the position that we have, in the way way we want to play, that’s much more important than sometimes even winning today.

“When you win something, that’s the most difficult thing. Doing what we have done in the Champions League, the Premier League, the Carabao Cup, every single thing is so difficult, there’s a game three days and that’s why I said many times, it doesn’t matter when we win 10, 12 or 13 games in a row that we want to win, we want to keep going, but when we lose in that way it’s a good example for our academy, for the generation coming through because even in the last minute we were pressing, trying to score a goal, it’s difficult of course because it’s a Champions League-level team, incredible manager with incredible players in attack, in defence and Jorginho, [N’Golo] Kante, [Mateo] Kovacic, back four well organised, it’s well organised and it was so difficult.

“That’s why I am so happy.”

Manchester City slipped to their first loss of the season (Getty)

Guardiola did not want to get into the debate over whether City might have won with Sergio Aguero or Kevin De Bruyne playing, as he said they have maintained their form despite missing the Belgian for the whole season so far, while suffering other injuries.

“Nobody knows. If someone had come here and told me that we’d win with Sergio or Kevin De Bruyne then congratulations because I don’t know.

“Yeah [we have injuries], but we did it so far and so I’m not here to complain about injuries because I said this and gave this ridiculous situation and tried to analyse our game, because the guys who are not here for many reasons and I’m not saying that the guys who were here were not good. It’s completely the opposite, they were outstanding.

“I said many times that after you win a game you have to be calm and all the time you win a game, it’s just three points and we analyse it the way we do and now we have to recover now, eat and prepare properly, play in the Champions League and win the next game.

“After that, we have to win another one, we have to do it step by step, analyse the many good things we have done and we will continue to do that.”

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