Pep Guardiola and Joao Cancelo faced the media in the build-up to Manchester City's third Champions League group stage game against Serie A side Atalanta - Here's a complete round-up of events.
Cancelo Biding His Time
Joao Cancelo has been in and out of the Manchester City team since his arrival from Juventus in the summer, mainly due to the form of Kyle Walker. But recently he's been starting more regularly, as Walker has struggled with fitness and subsequently a drop in performances. He spoke this afternoon about knowing his opportunity would come:
"When I came here I came here to learn. Pep is the best manager in football. It took me some time to learn but it’s important the team wins. I’ve been happy to wait for my moment and I took the opportunity to play.”
The Portuguese international also had a lot of praise for the makeshift centre-back pairing on Saturday:
"It’s true that in the last match we didn’t have any central defenders, but Rodri and Fernandinho are two extraordinary players.”
Champions League the aim for João
Questions are constantly asked whether Pep Guardiola was the masterplan for Manchester City to win the Champions League. Cancelo is certain that it is one of the clubs in contention and also spoke about his personal aims in Europe's premier club competition:
"I’ve been aiming to win this competition since I was a child. I came here because it’s my type of football. City is one of the teams that can win the Champions League. I didn’t say City have a better chance than Juventus...”
He also had a lot of praise for the manager:
“For me he’s the best manager in football today. I came here to learn from him and I think that when I play for him I always learn something.”
Pep Guardiola's first order of business was confirming that both Nicolas Otamendi and Kyle Walker are 'getting better' ahead of the Champions League clash on Tuesday night.
Both players missed the game against Crystal Palace with injury, and will be hoping to get back to action after training ahead of the upcoming game.
Guardiola knows the importance of 'in the box's'
A constant message from Guardiola throughout his time at Manchester City is that the players have to be good in 'both boxes':
"I’m very confident, I have full trust in my team but there’s a lot of strong teams. The Champions League will be won in the box and so far we’ve not been very strong strong in the box..."
“We’ve made mistakes we shouldn’t make at this level, for example in the match against Watford we created a lot of opportunities but scored very little, this is what I’m thinking. We’re good at defending and we need to score at the right moment.”
Guardiola knows Mendy's importance
Benjamin Mendy put in an impressive 90 minute display at Crystal Palace on Saturday evening and the manager knows his importance to the side:
"His physical condition is his biggest quality. He needs to train and train for months and months. When that happens we’ll see the best Mendy possible.”
Aguero and Jesus the perfect combination
Gabriel Jesus scored his 50th Premier League goal on Saturday and has shown just what he can do in the absence of Sergio Aguero. Guardiola had a lot of praise for both of his key strikers:
"In the smaller spaces Sergio is unstoppable, but Gabriel had played with Brazil so he was sharper. Sergio is unique in the world, Gabriel is the best striker in high intensity pressing in the world. It’s specific qualities..."
"Normally if you play with two strikers they would play quite regularly.”
Guardiola says we must 'fight against racism'
Serie A has been a bigger talking point in recent weeks due to the racism in the stands suffered by stars such as Romelu Lukaku. Guardiola knows it's a major issue that football needs to fight against:
“This is a fight that must be fought every day. It’s a cultural problem, attitude problem, it happens in English, Spanish and Italian stadiums. It’s a culture that must be embedded in children. It’s a fight we have to fight.”
Atalanta the focus, not Liverpool
The gap at the top of the league was cut to just six points this weekend following Liverpool's 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. But the boss says he had other commitments, and was not able to catch the game:
"I didn’t watch it. This game with Atalanta is enough. Yesterday I was engaged in personal issues.”
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