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Guardiola insists he will not change Man City’s style of play

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Pep Guardiola is a man of principle.

He will remain that way despite recent results for his Manchester City side.

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In his first season coaching in the Premier League the Spanish manager has come under plenty of criticism for sticking with a three-man central defense and insisting on his players playing out from the back and via goalkeeper Claudio Bravo which has led to plenty of sloppy defensive mistakes and just four wins in their last 15 games in all competitions.

Speaking after City’s 4-2 defeat at Leicester on Saturday, and ahead of their game against Watford on Wednesday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com) Guardiola was asked if he will change the way he plays to get results as City is currently seven points behind first-place Chelsea in the Premier League table.

“No way. We are going to way the play I feel,” Guardiola said. “Making mistakes and improve those mistakes. I cannot do something I don’t feel.”

He was then asked if people have to accept that his project to turn City into a free-flowing possession side similar to the teams he built at Barcelona and Bayern Munich will take time and if everyone should be patience for his project to develop.

“Football doesn’t accept projects. You have to win immediately. If you don’t win, you will be in trouble,” Guardiola said. “When you don’t win there are many reasons you don’t win. Maybe because the opponent is better but it is to improve what you are not doing properly. The mistakes of course you have to minimize those mistakes to win the games. I believe in that. I believe in what I like to play. I’m sorry if I am not able to do that and then the boss and the chairman are going to decide.”

So, Pep is piling the pressure on himself early on in his City career and it seems as though even if the results continue to go against him then he will keep playing risky soccer in defense and stick to his principles.

The big issue here is that it may not work in England against a different style of play week in, week out. Guardiola has said as much and is eager to see if his tactics work in the Premier League.

So far, it’s been way too easy for teams to press City back into their own half and force mistakes from John Stones, Bravo and other defenders like Aleksandar Kolarov who are being asked to play out of position and switch from full back to center back.

Over the long term Guardiola’s ideas will most likely gain plenty of success. The real problem is that right now he doesn’t appear to have the players, especially defensively, to carry out his wishes expertly.

With Man City’s hierarchy stating no more players will be bought in January, Guardiola has to do the best with what he has. With Vincent Kompany out injured and others being chopped and hanged all the time in the defensive areas, there’s no real sign of when these defensive issues will clear up or when the penny will drop, if it ever does, for this philosophy.

Is Guardiola being too stubborn in sticking with his philosophy and not tweaking it slightly? Or should he stick to his guns and go down on his own sword if if doesn’t work out?

If it’s the latter it won’t be pretty for City, who’ve waited for years to get Guardiola in charge and won’t be firing him anytime soon.

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

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Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia

MLS (afternoon) roundup: Historically awful MNUFC spanked again

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The fourth (partial — playing during international breaks should be banned) MLS Saturday of 2017 is two-thirds of the way complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

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New England Revolution 5-2 Minnesota United

What else needs to be said about Minnesota at this point? What else can be said? The number of goals they’ve conceded in their first four MLS games: 5, 6, 2, and 5. While (we think) a bit of luck will eventually go their way, and they’ll curtail the goals they’re conceding (we can’t be sure anymore), Adrian Heath’s side is on pace to conceded 153 goals this season.

Anyway, New England picked up their first win of the season. The quality (and ease) of goals scored will tell you everything you need to know about Minnesota’s defending.

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New York Red Bulls 0-0 Real Salt Lake

Five days after firing head coach Jeff Cassar, RSL returned to their inept, toothless ways in a scoreless draw away to New York. Through four games, the Claret and Cobalt have scored all of one goal, and genuinely look the league’s most lifeless side; Minnesota have at least shown signs of quality in the attacking half.

On Saturday, New York created the majority of the game’s best chances — a pair of shots from distance, masterfully saved by deputy goalkeeper Matt VanOekel — but the chance that will live in the memories of RSL fans for a lifetime came and went in agonizing fashion.

Albanian federation denounces “extremist acts” of their fans in Italy

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) Albania’s soccer federation has strongly denounced the incident that halted the World Cup Group G qualifier with Italy for nearly nine minutes on Friday.

During the match, which was won by Italy, 2-0, a group calling itself Illyrian Elite threw flares onto the pitch.

“Such totally extremist actions from the grouping Illyrian Elite have nothing to do with the excellent Albanian fans” who were distinguished in the EURO 2016 finals in France for their friendship and camaraderie in their festivities, the statement added.

The federation said an coach Gianni De Biasi also was “upset by the flares,” adding that during five years he has been in charge “I’ve seen something that’s never happened before.”