Champions League: Pep Guardiola pins hope on Brazilian duo
Manchester City are hopeful that goalkeeper Ederson and striker Gabriel Jesus can feature in Tuesday’s Champions League clash at Club Brugge with the Brazilian pair already in Belgium, manager Pep Guardiola said.
The duo were in World Cup qualifying action against Uruguay in Manaus last Friday and missed Saturday’s 2-0 Premier League victory over Burnley having been asked to travel directly to Belgium for the European game.
The British government said this month that fully vaccinated Premier League players could travel to red-list countries during the international break and train or play when they quarantine for 10 days in “bespoke facilities” on their return.
“They’re in Belgium right now. I think they told me they can play, but we’ll see in which condition we have time to prepare a training session,” Guardiola said.
“Because we have to train here. They’ll not be here, so I have to think about it. We sent them there because the day after Brugge they can come back and make a normal life.
“If they had come back directly to Manchester, they would have been isolated for 10 days in one hotel. We didn’t want that and that’s why they travelled to Belgium. Maybe they will play, that’s the good news.”
City won their Group A opener against RB Leipzig 6-3 before losing 2-0 to Paris Saint-Germain to sit third in the standings.
“I love the pressure. I know what we have to do. We have to win. We know that,” Guardiola added. “We live all the time on the edge. Now we rest. We don’t have much time.”
Guardiola also encouraged players to get vaccinated against Covid-19 after the recent rise in cases in Britain.
On Sunday, Britain reported 45,140 new cases of Covid-19, the highest daily number since the middle of July, and 57 new deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
Guardiola did not comment on his squad’s vaccination status, saying it was “private”, but added that he and his family have been vaccinated.
“I have my own opinion. I trust doctors and scientists. If they say it’s the best way to protect the people, you should do it,” Guardiola said.
“Myself and my family have done it. The doctors will talk with the players individually and after that they have to decide. We have to move forward, stay safe, be careful, use the masks, use the vaccines for a better society and for themselves.”
Neymar ruled out
Brazilian forward Neymar will miss Paris Saint-Germain’s Group A game against RB Leipzig after picking up an injury on international duty, manager Mauricio Pochettino said.
The 29-year-old was among a number of players not involved in PSG’s 2-1 Ligue 1 win over Angers on Friday due to their involvement in World Cup qualifying games.
“The priority is always well-being of the player,” Pochettino told a news conference. “Neymar has a little problem which we hope will only last for a few days and he will be back with the squad as soon as possible.”
“Neymar Jr had some pain in his groin since returning from international duty and will undergo more treatment over the next few days before returning to full training,” PSG added in a statement.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said he was not a fan of Spanish side Atletico Madrid’s style of play but could not argue with their results on the pitch.
Liverpool, who were beaten home and away by Diego Simeone’s team in the Champions League Round of 16 in 2019-20, travel to Madrid on Tuesday to take on Atletico in the group stage.
Klopp, who criticised Atletico’s physically demanding and defensive style after Liverpool’s defeats, told reporters on Monday that those comments had stemmed from anger and disappointment, not a lack of respect for the Spanish team.
“After the second game I was angry and disappointed about a lot of things,” Klopp told a news conference.
“Life, a bit, as well as things were going wrong in the world at that moment. We played against a team full of world-class players and they defended with all they had.
“Diego Simeone is doing everything right, he is the Spanish champion and he has been at Atletico for a long long time. He keeps them on their toes and they fight for their lives. I couldn’t respect it more.”
Simeone though praised the Premier League team for their style of play. “Chelsea, (Manchester) City, Liverpool are all fantastic but watching Liverpool is a real pleasure,” Simeone told a news conference.
“They press high, play a high line, they have no fear of leaving spaces at the back. They have very quick players to go on the break. With (Virgil) van Dijk now (back from a long-term injury) they have improved their solidity in defence. I don’t expect anything other than a team who will make things very difficult for us. We will try and find a way to hurt them, we need to match their intensity and will look to create our own chances.”
AC Milan must eliminate individual errors and improve concentration to get their campaign back on track in two decisive games against Porto, coach Stefano Pioli said.
The seven-time European champions suffered defeats by Liverpool and Atletico Madrid in their opening two games, leaving them at the bottom of Group B.
⚫ Club Brugge vs Man City (10.15pm, IST)
⚫ PSG vs Leipzig
⚫ Porto vs AC Milan
⚫ Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool
⚫ Besiktas vs Sporting (10.15pm, IST)
⚫ Ajax vs Dortmund
⚫ Inter Milan vs Sheriff
⚫ Shakhtar Donetsk vs Real Madrid
Note: Kick-off at 12.30am IST Wednesday unless otherwise mentioned