‘A team that believes’ – can anyone stop Man City ‘juggernaut’?

Pep Guardiola gives a thumbs up to his Manchester City players

“We are a team that believes we can do it.”

When you look at Manchester City’s form in Europe and domestically, manager Pep Guardiola’s words should be a surprise to no-one.

The Champions League holders swept aside Copenhagen 6-2 on aggregate to reach the quarter-finals for the seventh successive season and become the first English club to win 10 consecutive matches in the competition.

They did it despite leaving seven players out from the side that beat Manchester United on Sunday, with half an eye on this weekend’s showdown with Liverpool at Anfield – as City bid to become the first side to win four English top-flight titles in a row.

And, as City remain with the chance of a historic double Treble, former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand described them as a “juggernaut that needs to be stopped”.

The ease with which City booked their last-eight spot alongside Bayern Munich, Paris St-Germain and Real Madrid suggests no-one will relish a two-legged encounter with the holders when the draw is made on 15 March.

And Guardiola feels it underlines a change of mindset at City since he arrived at the club in 2016.

“We arrived here from Barcelona and Bayern Munich, where the demand is to always be there,” he said. “I felt the club – not the players – didn’t feel it.

“Managers and hierarchies don’t get time, but they gave us time to lose against Monaco [2017], against Liverpool [2018], against Tottenham [2019].

“It is easy for clubs that have big history – start with the best ones: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Bayern Munich or Manchester United, they have been used to it.

“Coming here, it was not about one person from Catalonia saying ‘now we are going to win the Champions League’. They gave me time.

“Now we are a process where we can lose, definitely, but we can compete everywhere because we come from a final, a semi-final, a final and now the quarter-finals again. That means consistency.”

Guardiola insisted his much-changed line-up came from his desire to get more energy into his team after their exertions against Manchester United. But none of the outfield players that started that match completed the full 90 minutes in this one.

Twice he was asked directly about Liverpool – who are a point ahead of Manchester City – and on both occasions he told his inquisitor to “ask me on Friday”, meaning his pre-match media conference.

“It is not personal,” he said. “I want to see you at my press conference on Friday. If I answer all the questions now, you will not come.”

More history for Manchester City – the stats

  • Manchester City have won 28 of their past 30 home games in the Champions League. They are only the second side to go 30+ consecutive home matches without defeat in the competition, after Barcelona (38 from September 2013 to November 2020).
  • Manchester City are the first side in major European competition history to score 3+ goals in nine consecutive home matches, a run which started with a 5-0 win over FC Copenhagen back in October 2022.
  • Manchester City are heading for Anfield on Sunday unbeaten in 20 games in all competitions.
  • City have only lost one two-legged Champions League knockout tie in nearly five years.
  • They become just the third side to win 10 consecutive Champions League games, joining Real Madrid (2015) and Bayern Munich (2013, 2020).
  • Erling Haaland has now scored as many career Champions League goals as Sergio Aguero (41). He has done so in 42 fewer games.
  • Haaland has scored 10 goals in four appearances in the home legs of last-16 Champions League ties, netting six in two for Manchester City. Since his debut in the competition in September 2019, he is the outright overall top scorer with 41 goals, one ahead of Robert Lewandowski (40).

Can anyone stop the juggernaut?

It is all eyes on Anfield on Sunday as Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal compete in one of the tightest Premier League title races in years.

Just two points separate the three, with Ferdinand expecting Guardiola’s men to be full of confidence.

He told TNT Sport: “Man City know what they are doing, they have been here before. The manager is a relentless force. The focus is there and this is a juggernaut that needs to be stopped.”

Former Newcastle and Manchester City goalkeeper Shay Given added on BBC Radio 5 Live: “Anfield will be bouncing on Sunday, it’s a really tough place to play.

“I think if City go there and get three points, which they can do, then they will go on to become the first team to win four Premier Leagues on the bounce.”

If you are viewing this page on the BBC News app, or if it isn’t displaying correctly in the BBC Sport app, please click here to vote.

Adblock test (Why?)

Read Original Article