Pep Guardiola and John Stones faced the media on Tuesday night ahead of Manchester City's clash against Atalanta in Italy. Three points for the blues guarantees progression, and the boss has provided all the updates prior to the game...
Stones knows he has to step up
Manchester City centre-back John Stones was first asked about his place in the City side, his answer was quite emphatic:
"We all have to step up as players and fight for our positions, fight for our teammates.
We need to play for the players who are injured. We need to keep working hard every day in training and setting the standard for everyone."
Stones also admits it's been tough being out of the side with injury:
"It's been difficult getting re-injured. Being out of the team, not being available. I need to stay as fit and healthy as I can.
Get a run of games when called upon to try and do my best for the team and for myself. I feel good again, I feel fit and I need to stay like this for as long as i can - for the rest of the season hopefully."
Stones 'impressed' by makeshift defence
In the Englishman's absence, the likes of Rodri and Fernandinho have been required to play as makeshift centre-backs, and Stones has been a big fan of the way they've performed:
"Massively impressed by the likes of Dinho. He’s played in numerous positions and played as if he’s played there his whole career and that’s the great mentality that he’s got and the rest of the lads as well..."
If asked to play different positions it’s never second-guessed, the lads are always doing it. That’s credit to them and it’s something that people should look at and young kids especially be inspired and take that upon themselves"
"It’s about helping the team and not putting yourself first sometimes and definitely the likes of Dinho and Rodri have done that and exceeded in my opinion."
City got what they deserved from Saturday
John Stones talked about Saturday's 2-1 win over Southampton where Kyle Walker's late goal secured the three points:
"I think in that instance it was something that we deserved, the way we played, the way a lot of things went against us. The opposition trying to waste time in every aspect but the football did the talking, the tempo we played at.
How aggressive we were in every aspect and kept trying and that shows the mentality of the squad. For Kyle, it was something that he wouldn’t really do with his left foot! He’s been proud about it all week and rightly so..."
"Everyone is chipping in and that’s what mattered at the weekend. That’s what matters every game. The mentality of the lads through those difficult situations of the game, we got the three points and everyone is chipping in to help us get that."
Guardiola backs Mario
Racism rued it's ugly head once again this weekend and former Manchester City player Mario Balotelli was on the receiving end of it. Guardiola has had his say on the incident:
"I hope we can continue to battle this at home and in schools because it's not an issue only in football.
I can’t comment on the Napoli situation because I don’t know the ins and outs. Unfortunately these things happen a lot and the victim ends up becoming the guilty party but this goes on all over the world and Europe."
Guardiola on a 'great week' for the club
Not only could City secure progression into the next round of the Champions League tomorrow, but can also cut the gap at the top to three points if they win at Anfield on Sunday. Guardiola thinks it's a great week, but there's still a long way to go:
"It’s a great week for us because we come to Italy and face Atalanta and then face Liverpool on Sunday. Even so, there is still three quarters of the season to go after that.
My son and my daughter always when Liverpool win in the last minute say Liverpool are lucky. I tell them not. What Liverpool has done this season and last season many times is because they have this incredible quality to fight until the end"
He also clarified his previous comments suggestion Liverpool's Sadio Mane was a diver:
"That’s why I said to my players that it is not lucky. Sometimes at 94' against Leicester with the penalty it was like ‘wow’. That was the intention for my comment but it was far from my intention to say that Sadio Mane is that type of player.
Even with that, the ref and the VAR said penalty. Maybe I was wrong to think it wasn’t a penalty."
Pep on 'legendary' San Siro
The San Siro, where City will face Atalanta, has a very rich history, and Pep Guardiola needed no reminding of that:
"I don’t know where it would be rebuilt. Either way, it’s a legendary around the world. It is a special place to play. If they decide to change it, I am sure it will benefit Inter and Milan but I don’t know more than that."
Guardiola wants to qualify early
Three points guarantee's progression to the next round of the Champions League and the boss admits he wants to do that in quick time:
"I want to qualify as soon as possible, I'm not thinking about rotating. I go game by game. Try to win tomorrow to be there one more year, that would be incredible but if not there is Shakhtar at home and Zagreb away.
Tomorrow is the most important game. Try to play good, and after the next one."
But the manager is also cautious on the ability he knows the opposition can bring:
"Before the first fixture there might have been danger but they have experienced exactly what it takes to come up against them. Now they know what to expect. We’ve prepared as best we can, we know it is always tough to come away in Europe."
Pep vs Jurgen continues
Guardiola quickly swatted away any mention of Jurgen Klopp's comments:
"I don’t know. I didn’t listen to what he said."
On tactical fouling:
"No comment, I don't put oil on the fire."
And is he suprised:
"No. No comment, honestly."
Well thats the end of that then...
Pep interested in Italy?
With all the rumours linking Guardiola to Juventus in the summer, the manager was asked if he were interested in managing in Italy one day:
"I don’t know, I’m very happy in Manchester."
Guardiola wants to play entertaining football
The manager was asked about how he prefers his sides to play football and his response was as expected:
"I try to attack and defend always, the only difference is based on the attributes of the players I coach. Ultimately, I try to entertain the public and play an attacking style of football."
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