Stay focused, Pep Guardiola tells boys
Manchester City will not change their approach for Wednesday’s Champions League last 16 first- leg encounter with Borussia Moenchengladbach but they cannot get complacent, manager Pep Guardiola said on Tuesday.
Premier League leaders City beat Arsenal 1-0 last Sunday to extend their winning streak in all competitions to 18 games and will be firm favourites against Gladbach but Guardiola said his side must show the German team the respect they deserve.
“We’re going to prepare it like a normal game and we’re going to tell the players what Gladbach are as a team like we have done against Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton,” Guardiola told a news conference.
“We’re not going to change anything — just adapt for what they are. We’re not used to playing against them. They must know what they are individually and play a good game to try to get a good result like we have done so far.
“We chase a lot of competitions. We played two days ago, we arrived late from London and now have a long trip... We have to be focused on what we have to do.”
Gladbach finished second in Group B that included Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk and Inter Milan to advance and Guardiola said he was well aware of their threats.
Coach Gian Piero Gasperini said Atalanta can’t lose their identity when they face Real Madrid and insisted that an injury crisis makes the Spaniards no less dangerous.
The two sides meet in Bergamo for the first leg on Wednesday and 13-time European champions Madrid have travelled with only 11 fit senior players.
Atalantaare renowned for a high-energy, attacking style of football and Gasperini is determined not to alter his team’s approach too much.
“We can’t distort our characteristics, which allowed us to reach the Champions League and be competitive in Italy,” the coach told a news conference.
Real Madrid are missing several key players for the trip to Italy, with striker Karim Benzema joining the likes of Eden Hazard, Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal and Marcelo on the injury list this week.
But the Spanish side are on a four-match winning run in La Liga which took them to second place, and haven’t conceded a goal in their last three games.