Southampton ready for ‘biggest’ challenge of Man City, Ralph Hasenhuttl claims

Hasenhuttl will prepare his squad to face the best City team possible

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl (right) will relish the challenge of facing Pep Guardiola (left) in the dugout (Paul Childs/PA)
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl (right) will relish the challenge of facing Pep Guardiola (left) in the dugout (Paul Childs/PA)

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl would pay to go watch Manchester City play – but will have his side ready for the “biggest” challenge of tackling Pep Guardiola’s side in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

While City may be facing a stern challenge from Liverpool in the Premier League title race, whatever starting XI Guardiola selects at St Mary’s on Sunday will be favourites to progress.

Hasenhuttl feels he has to prepare his squad to face the best City side possible and challenged everyone to emerge stronger from the experience.

“You take massive things out of his (Guardiola’s) games. When you can imagine about a challenge for a manager, this is the biggest one definitely,” the Austrian said.

“It is always a super-intense game and super-intense to manage – but it makes you better, the players, us (coaches), everybody.

“Hopefully we see a really good cup game and I am sure we will because it is two teams that want to play football, two teams that want to create chances, that are looking for an intense way of playing football.

“They are so fantastic to watch – if I was a football fan, I would go there for sure.”

Southampton’s progress in recent weeks has stalled on the back of three straight league defeats following on from a seven-match unbeaten run through all competitions.

Hasenhuttl knows things are not about to get any easier against City’s multi-talented squad.

“You simply expect that they are coming with the best possible team, because they have also one week’s time to prepare and have no game next week as they are going for the international break,” said Hasenhuttl, whose side drew both of their league games against City this season.

“I think it is easier to expect the (Man City) team as (being) the best possible and maybe (like) one of the teams that have selected in the past (for the FA Cup).”

Saints will be aiming to reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the second year running, having been edged out at Wembley by Leicester, who went on to lift the trophy with victory over Chelsea.

“The opportunity is always there. It doesn’t matter what position we are in the table to be honest because this is a different competition,” Hasenhuttl said.

“It is always a target for us. Last season we were in the semi-finals and we have seen how fantastic this was as a club for us.

“Although we didn’t have all the supporters with us, for them it would be a massive thing for them to go to the semi-finals at Wembley.

“This is definitely important for us, but it doesn’t mean we do not care about the league. Since the last game against West Ham we didn’t win a (league) game.”

Hasenhuttl added: “You always see in the Premier League, there are some moments where you are on a good run, you are flying and especially for teams like us it is also sometimes tougher to win games.

“But for us it is important to be fully focussed now on a big chance and this is what we have been doing this week.

“We could feel the players are really looking forward to this game and the guys that offer me the most will get the chance to play.”

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