Pep Guardiola: City will have to play perfectly to beat Messi and Co

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Pep Guardiola: City will have to play perfectly to beat Messi and Co

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SportsCafe Desk


Pep Guardiola has said Manchester City will have to play a "perfect game" if they are to beat a Lionel Messi-led Barcelona team in the Champions League at the Eitihad stadium. In the reverse fixture at the Nou Camp, the Catalans ran away 4-0 winners courtesy of a Messi hat-trick.

City have a horrendous record against the Catalan giants, losing all five previous meetings. Guardiola, who spent almost 20 years at the Nou Camp, dismissed talk of revenge ahead of the clash, saying that City play every game to win no matter who the opponent.

“We have to play almost perfectly to win but if not we congratulate them and set our minds on the game against Celtic and in Monchengladbach in a few weeks,"Guardiola told a pre-match press conference.

“We will try, we will try it again. I’ve never thought we could not win, I have never entered a match thinking we can’t win.

“I’d love to be closer but it’s impossible in three months. We have to be focused for 90 minutes, knowing they are going to provoke our mistakes because of the quality they have.

“Barcelona provoke your mistakes. But we had a few chances and have to keep going in that sense and try to finish better than we did in Barcelona.”

Guardiola’s decision to drop Sergio Aguero for an extra man in midfield in the first game against his former team backfired as City succumbed to a humiliating loss. Aguero, whose first half brace against West Brom over the weekend secured a first win in seven for Guardiola, is in contention for the match, but the former Bayern Munich manager refused to give away anything about his team before the game.

“The quality is Luis Suarez, I don’t want those qualities, Aguero has his own qualities. I want to help Aguero to achieve his huge qualities as much as possible," Guardiola said, when asked to compare Suarez and Aguero.

“Suarez has a quality I can’t ask of Sergio. What Suarez does I can’t ask Sergio because it would be unfair. I want to build up Sergio’s quality and also his mentality.”

The two-time Champions League winner will be without a senior right back as both Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta are down with injuries, and it is likely that Fernando will start in the position again after his excellent performance against West Brom.

“We have to think we’ve not got right-backs. We have one who recently played there and one who is 19. They have some important players out and we have to learn from the first game," Guardiola said.

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has injury concerns of his own as Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Jeremy Mathieu, Andres Iniesta and Aleix Vidal have all been sidelined with niggles.

"I have full confidence in all the players that I have," Enrique said, when asked about the lack of available defensive options.

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