The Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, refuses to believe the hype that his side already has one foot in the quarter-finals, where they could face Juventus.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday he was not looking ahead to a potential Champions League quarter-final tie against Juventus because any loss of focus could result in elimination by Real Madrid in the last 16.
Madrid, not Juventus, on Guardiola’s radar
City lead Real 2-1 heading into the return leg at the Etihad Stadium on 7 August and would face Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juve in the quarter-finals if both teams were to progress. The Italians are 1-0 down versus Olympique Lyonnais from the first leg in France.
‘In this organisation there is no one who knows Real better than me. They are the dominant team in the Champions League and we have to focus on them,’ Guardiola told reporters ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash against Brighton & Hove Albion.
‘We think about Real. If we think about the next step when we are playing against the king of this competition, they will put us out.’
Guardiola confirmed Argentine striker Sergio Aguero, who had knee surgery in Barcelona last month, would be unavailable for the fixture against the 13-time European champions. The club’s record goalscorer limped off with a knee injury in last month’s 5-0 Premier League home win over Burnley.
City’s appeal against a two-year suspension from European football was heard last month at the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) and Guardiola was confident the UEFA ban will be overturned when the decision is announced on Monday.
‘The intention every season is to play in the Champions League and do the best possible. It is not about what will happen on Monday,’ he said. ‘I’m confident because I saw the arguments of the club that next season we will be there but we have to wait and after I give my opinion or the club will give their statement.’
A win at Brighton would confirm City’s berth in the top four and snap a run of three straight league defeats on the road, the worst away run in Guardiola’s managerial career.