Manchester City means business! Pep Guardiola is ready to end the club’s Champions League quarter-final curse by getting past Borussia Dortmund … as Ilkay Gundogan admits he has ‘expectations’ in Europe this season.
- Manchester City take a 2-1 lead in the second leg of their Champions League match
- Premier League leaders beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at the Etihad last week
- They have never entered the Champions League quarter finals with a head start
- Now they must take the opportunity to ‘prove’ themselves, Pep Guardiola admits
Manchester City has found every possible way to fall on this hurdle under Pep Guardiola.
They snapped it with a dragging leg against Tottenham and clattered it straight into it with their front foot against Liverpool and Lyon. The end result was always the same.
So this is it for City and Guardiola.
Manager Pep Guardiola is ready to end Manchester City’s curse against Dortmund
Never before have they gone ahead to a Champions League quarter-final and now they have to take advantage.
They will need bright heads and strong minds against a powerful attack from Borussia Dortmund that is fully expected to score on Wednesday.
“I have expectations of us,” said City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan. ‘I know we can make it to the semi-finals. We should have been there earlier, but we were lacking something.
Ilkay Gundogan says City is ‘able’ to make it to semifinals and has ‘expectations’
Phil Foden scored the winner against Dortmund last week and could be key on Wednesday
‘People sometimes made unnecessary individual mistakes. I feel like we are much more stable at the moment, especially defensive. ‘
WHAT THE CITY MUST DO TO CONTINUE
By Chris Sutton
Stop Erling Haaland and in all likelihood you prevent Borussia Dortmund from hitting Pep Guardiola as City manager for another quarter-final. Jadon Sancho’s absence is good news for City, as he and Haaland are very close. One helps and the other scores. Dortmund will create opportunities, no doubt about that, but City’s defense must limit Haaland’s involvement. The presence of Ruben Dias prevented him from hitting in the first leg at the Etihad. Time for round two.
The city must overcome the psychological barrier they have with this phase of Europe’s elite competition. Don’t do something stupid like playing a back three to defend your way to the semi-finals. That failed badly when Lyon shocked City 3-1 last year. Go to Germany with swagger and the belief that you can and will score. Dortmund’s defense is nothing to brag about. Make use of it!
GET THE SELECTION RIGHT
Fantasy Football fans will tell you that Guardiola’s lineups are not easy to guess, but this is one roster he has to grab.
I expect Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez to return, and Guardiola could even use Kevin De Bruyne as a false nine. You never know with him.
Speaking candidly on Tuesday, Gundogan explained that setbacks in previous campaigns – be it a shocking goal or a baffling referee decision – were too difficult to handle for a group of players unfamiliar with setbacks.
“We have to learn that it is normal to wrestle,” he said. “We have failed in recent years, but we know that a team of our quality gets the chance.”
The German, who is returning to his old club for the first time, thinks City should attack because ‘defending results does not suit us’.
It looks like City will try to outsmart their hosts, who boast the in-form Erling Haaland at the front.
Guardiola will be bolstered by the reaction to Dortmund’s equalizing goal at the Etihad Stadium last week. Marco Reus struck with six minutes to go, but City stormed on – the dazzling Phil Foden scored what he hoped will prove to be a crucial stoppage time winner.
However, there is one statistic that will not allay the inherent pessimism within the club’s fan base and shows that Wednesday’s success is by no means a foregone conclusion.
Of the 27 teams that won a Champions League first leg 2-1 at home, only 12 have progressed. This task requires unshakable focus from Guardiola’s men.
“We know we have to do what we’ve been doing all season,” said the City manager.
‘If we want to win, we have to earn it, we have to go for it. Of course you have to control your emotions, but sometimes you need emotions in a good way to win these types of games.
Everyone should try to be a leader on the field and if a man feels comfortable in the game, take the responsibility of being more involved.
‘For the guys who are more nervous or quieter – do your job, play simple, be calm.
“We know they have the weapons to score a goal, but we also have the weapons to score a goal. We are not going to defend anything that we won at home. ‘
Guardiola has reassured key figures in preparation, making seven changes ahead of Saturday’s defeat to Leeds, while Dortmund is concerned about fitness after going full blast in Stuttgart to make it to the top four in the Bundesliga.
Guardiola says his Manchester City side is eager to ‘prove’ itself on the European stage
Reus and Mats Hummels, the veteran couple who played alongside Gundogan in the 2013 final at Wembley, are still under assessment. Jadon Sancho remains unavailable.
“We have one more chance, one more chance,” added Guardiola.
‘The players want to do it again because they were sad when we couldn’t go to the semi-finals before and this is an opportunity to prove ourselves. No one will give it to us.
‘Doing business is doing business and the company is to win. If we win, it’s “How good is Pep!” If we don’t win, I’m a failure. ‘