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Manchester City better than their recent European conquerors, claims Guardiola

Pep Guardiola has claimed Manchester City were better than Lyon and Tottenham when being knocked out of the Champions League by them in the past two seasons.

City resume their current European campaign with Wednesday’s last-16 opening leg at Borussia Mönchengladbach. In four previous attempts Guardiola has never guided City beyond the quarter-finals.

In last year’s single-game quarter-final Lyon beat City 3-1, and at the same stage in April 2019 Guardiola’s team were eliminated on away goals by Tottenham.

The manager said: “We lost but we played better. We’ll try to play better and win the game [on Wednesday]. Against Tottenham and Lyon we were better, in 180 minutes [across two legs] versus Tottenham and 90 versus Lyon, but we were out. All the times when we went out we were playing at a high level. We were so close to going through.”

City have won their past 18 matches but despite this spectacular run Guardiola suggested they could lose at Mönchengladbach, who are eighth in the Bundesliga.

“The rest of the season we’ll do the same as what we have been doing the last two months,” he said. “It works, but cannot work in the future. And the future is tomorrow and the West Ham game [on Saturday]. Football is the most unpredictable game: if you believe everything is under control, you cannot do it [have success]. We have to play good and the desire is there to do this.”

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Guardiola was asked whether City’s disappointments in the Champions Leaguecould help this season. “I’m not a big fan of saying this: that it can help you,” he said. “Football shows you millions of examples of how a team winning the Champions League with 29 or 30 years’ experience in the competition can lose.

“You have to be focused for 90 mins, like the Premier League; it’s nothing special or different.”

Guardiola said recently he would choose a regular penalty taker because this could be crucial in the Champions League and will make his decision shortly before the match. “I’m still thinking of the selection. I have to see how the players feel and after that we will see tomorrow.”

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