By 90Min
October 24, 2019

Pep Guardiola makes outlandish comments like a baker makes bread.

According to the Catalan's public comments, Phil Foden is a more gifted footballer than Lionel Messi, Claudio Bravo's Manchester City debut was one of the greatest individual performances of all-time and the Sky Blues are still 'not ready' to win the Champions League despite all the investment and domestic success.

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So, Pep believes his side aren't at the level required to conquer the continent, even though they beat Liverpool to last season's Premier League title? The same Liverpool who collected their sixth European Cup in June? This is becoming a bit of a joke.

Let's start with the obvious reason for why Guardiola's claim is laughable - City are the richest club in the history of the sport!

The squad Pep has at his disposal cost over €1bn to assemble. We all know that money talks in football, with most teams' success on the field roughly matching their financial power. It's impossible for the 48-year-old to justify his position. If you have the most money, you're 'ready' to win the most coveted prize of all. In fact, the Citizens were ready a while ago.

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Of course, splashing the cash doesn't guarantee silverware because the wealth must be spent wisely, but the English champions have been intelligent with their investment since Sheikh Mansour's takeover in 2008.

Cast your eyes over the players currently plying their trade at the Etihad Stadium and it becomes crystal clear that the City hierarchy have followed a smart, carefully-constructed transfer plan.

Kevin De Bruyne for £55m? Bargain. Pay Liverpool £49m to land Raheem Sterling? Superb business. Spend £38m on Sergio Aguero? Absolute steal. These are world-class footballers who have all made the shortlist for the 2019 Ballon d'Or.

Moreover, these are players who have developed marvellously in Manchester, getting to grips with life at Eastlands, before truly blossoming in sky blue. Pep has a squad teeming with top-quality talent and they're all familiar with each other's game.

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Guardiola may have had a leg to stand on if he only had a group of individuals, yet he doesn't. He has a strong team unit, as well as the correct personnel to play his particular brand of football.

When the coach arrived from Bayern Munich in 2016, there was a lot of deadwood hanging around the Etihad. He quickly saw to that, saying adios to the beloved Pablo Zabaleta and others deemed unfit for his style of play.

The departures were all replaced to maintain City's ludicrous squad depth, which also means Pep can't claim his team are being spread thin. Sure, they're normally still in all four competitions come February, but let's not pretend they don't have the numbers to cope with it.

People may point to their fixture list last April when the Mancunians played in an FA Cup semi against Brighton, both legs of the Champions League quarter-finals versus Tottenham and league matches with Manchester United, Spurs again and Crystal Palace, all within the space of 18 days.

It was congested and City crashed out of Europe at the hands of the Lilywhites. However, no one made Guardiola drop De Bruyne for the first leg in north London. No one told him to play both Foden and Riyad Mahrez in only one of those games. 

Additionally, that away-goals exit to Tottenham will serve the Sky Blues well in this current European campaign. There are no losses in football - it's either a win or a lesson learned.

City will have taken some valuable lessons from the tie with Spurs, one of which is to choose your best players in the last-eight of the Champions League!

The experience they gained should leave the club in a better position this time around as they aim to finally add Old Big Ears to their trophy cabinet. Likewise, the trials they've faced in their previous eight seasons in the competition will aid Guardiola's men this campaign.

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It's clear that the Citizens have become well-acquainted with the tournament, hammering home the point that they are not the naive, raw outfit that they were back in 2011/12, their first year at the top table of European football.

City are an established superpower that have been earning top-flight titles for a considerable period of time - only two squad members made their debuts before the club's maiden Premier League triumph.

Pep's claim just isn't tenable and he, more than anyone else, knows that. He has the money, the team and the experience to conquer the continent. It's high time he stopped playing mind games because no one's buying it.


For more from Ed Alexander, follow him on Twitter!

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