Pep Guardiola

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 21:  Josep Guardiola manager of Manchester City reacts as Leonardo Jardim head coach of AS Monaco looks on during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Manchester City FC and AS Monaco at Etihad Stadium on February 21, 2017 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Guradiola “so happy” to see Man City “achieve another step” as a club

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In the past, when faced with adversity in the UEFA Champions League, Manchester City could do little more than wilt and crumble as their European dreams when up in smoke year after year, typically in embarrassing and/or heartbreaking fashion.

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On Tuesday, when faced with 2-1 and 3-2 deficits late into the second half of their round-of-16 first leg against Monaco, deja vu was quickly setting in for anyone who’s followed Man City’s rise from middling afterthought to mega-rich conglomerate with aspirations of world domination. Then, something strange (based on years of recent history) happened: Sergio Aguero fired City back to level at 2-2 in the 58th minute. Sure, more shocking defending saw the deficit restored three minutes later, but again, Aguero dissented.

For this reason, and perhaps this reason alone considering the putrid defensively display over the course of 90 minutes, first-year City manager Pep Guardiola should be heartened by Tuesday’s events at the Etihad Stadium. In his mind, it was a massive step forward in the club’s psyche — quotes from the BBC:

“I am so happy for the result, we are still alive. These kind of things help this club to achieve another step. We attacked in small spaces. That’s why they wanted me to come here. Everybody has to be congratulated.

“We are going to fly to Monaco to score as many goals as possible. If we don’t score in Monaco we will be eliminated.”

LIVE: UCL last 16 – Man City v Monaco; Bayer v Atletico Madrid

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 06:  Sergio Aguero of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his sides fourth goal during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between West Ham United and Manchester City at London Stadium on January 6, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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Two more UEFA Champions League Round of 16 clashes get underway on Tuesday.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Manchester City host AS Monaco at the Etihad Stadium with Pep Guardiola knowing his shaky defense must stay strong against the leading scorers in France’s top-flight. Monaco have already come to England and beaten Tottenham Hotspur in the UCL group stage and under talented manager Leanardo Jardim the likes of Radamel Falcao looks fired up and ready to go.

That said, City have been much better in recent weeks and have shown their best form this season in the UCL. Remember, Pep has never failed to reach the semifinals of this competition as a manager. Quite the record.

Elsewhere Bayer Leverkusen welcome Atletico Madrid to the BayArena with Mexico’s Javier Hernandez back among the goals and aiming to give the Bundesliga outfit a lead to take with them to Madrid.

The runners up late season, Atleti are currently fourth in La Liga but Diego Simeone’s side have looked stellar in Europe this season once again as they finished above Bayern Munich to win their group. Expect a tense, tough game in Germany.

Click on the link above to follow live commentary on both games, while we will have reaction and analysis on all of the UCL knockout games here at Pro Soccer Talk.


Tuesday’s UCL Round of 16, first legs

Manchester City vs. AS Monaco – 2:45 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Atletico Madrid – 2:45 p.m. ET

Guardiola: Treatment of Wenger “unacceptable”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18:  Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal (L) and Josep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City (R) shake hands prior to kick off during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on December 18, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
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Arsene Wenger has been battered by many in the wake of Arsenal’s 5-1 loss to Bayern Munich in the first leg of the sides’ UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie last week.

One guy who’s not feeling it? Pep Guardiola.

The Manchester City boss says he gets the criticism of player selection, but bristles at the extent and severity of the post-match vitriol being served up to Wenger.

[ MORE: UCL Tuesday preview ]

Guardiola was asked about making eight changes to his lineup for Man City’s draw against Huddersfield Town, which caused an FA Cup replay.

Here’s his answer, from Sky Sports:

“My friend, I take the decisions, you analyze my decisions. You have to take a decision before [the game], to the best solution. It was what I did. If you don’t agree, you can write it.

“What I hear in the last 10 days, about how people, ex-players, journalists, treat Arsene Wenger is unacceptable.”

This not a particularly kind stretch for Wenger’s Arsenal, and the Gunners do look set for a seventh-straight exit from the UCL at the Round of 16. Still, Guardiola does have a point when accounting for the fact that Jurgen Klopp, Guardiola, and Jose Mourinho have all seen poor stretches this season.

Yes, Wenger has been at Arsenal much longer than his peers in the Premier League, but the cyclical criticism of the French boss is exhausting and exhaustive. Two decades in one location provides enough data to call someone a legend or brand him a disappointment. It’s a downtime right now, and perhaps the right time to change bosses. But people seem particularly happy to burn Wenger.

Champions League Tuesday: Man City hosts Monaco; Red-hot Chicharito

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19: Man City's Manager Pep Guardiola celebrates the teams win with Yaya Toure after the whistle during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester City at Selhurst Park on November 19, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
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Pep Guardiola gets his next chance at European success when Monaco visits the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16.

[ MORE: Mourinho pleased with Utd’s attitude ]

It’s one of two Tuesday first legs, with big names like Fernando Torres, Javier Hernandez, and Antoine Griezmann all set to feature in the other.

Manchester City vs. Monaco

How they got here: Man City finished second to Barcelona in Group C, winning two of six matches, while Monaco won Group E over Bayer Leverkusen, Tottenham Hotspur, and CSKA Moscow.

History: Tuesday will be the first meeting of Man City and Monaco.

The plot: Pep Guardiola’s tenure at Bayern Munich saw him bounced at the semifinals of three-straight UCL tournaments, and his last final came in 2011.

The subplot: Will Yaya Toure’s City resurgence extend into Europe? How about Radamel Falcao getting some PL revenge? And watch out for Premier League rumor mill men Fabinho, Bernardo Silva, and Joao Moutinho.


Bayer Leverkusen vs. Atletico Madrid

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 17: Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid leaps over the challenge from Emir Spahic of Bayer Leverkusen during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Vicente Calderon Stadium on March 17, 2015 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid leaps over the challenge from Emir Spahic of Bayer Leverkusen (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

How they got here: Bayer finished second to Monaco in Group E, and Atletico won five of six group stage matches in summiting Group D.

History: The clubs swapped home wins in the 2015 UCL — Atleti progressed after penalties — and drew a pair of UEL matches in 2010.

The plot: Neither side is tempting its usual spot on its domestic table, and both Diego Simeone and Roger Schmidt would be thrilled to progress in Europe.

The subplot: Simeone has won the Europa League, and is chasing his third UCL final in four seasons. … Bayer attacker Chicharito is hot again, with five goals in his last three Bundesliga matches, after waving off MLS rumors.

FA Cup roundup: Man City toothless vs. Huddersfield; Boro win wild one

HUDDERSFIELD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Josep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City looks on prior to The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Huddersfield Town and Manchester City at John Smith's Stadium on February 18, 2017 in Huddersfield, England.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images
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A roundup of Saturday’s action in the fifth round of the FA Cup (thus far)…

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Middlesbrough 3-2 Oxford United

Aitor Karanka‘s side went from 2-0 up (Grant Leadbitter and Rudy Gestede), to level with League One side Oxford United at 2-2, in the space of 90 second-half seconds. The last thing Middlesbrough would have wanted was a fifth-round replay shoehorned into their upcoming fixtures list which already features a tough relegation battle (they currently sit 16th in the Premier League, just two points clear of 18th-place Hull City). Cristhian Stuani rescued them from that reality with his late winner, in the 86th minute, to send Boro through to their first FA Cup quarterfinals appearance since 2009.

MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Toni Martinez of Oxford United celebrates scoring his sides second goal with his Oxford United team mates during The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Middlesbrough and Oxford United at Riverside Stadium on February 18, 2017 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

[ MORE: Fifth-division Lincoln City shock PL side Burnley in FA Cup ]

Huddersfield 0-0 Manchester City

The lineup was first-choice, but the result far worse than second-rate for Manchester City, as Pep Guardiola‘s side proved the definition of toothless and uninspiring in their 0-0 draw away to Championship side Huddersfield Town. 63 percent of possession was converted into fewer than a handful of clear-cut scoring chances, and the absolute last thing Man City needed — a replay smack dab in the middle of a suddenly congested fixtures list (they begin their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie against Monaco on Tuesday) — has come to pass.

HUDDERSFIELD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Sergio Aguero of Manchester City (C) and Mark Hudson of Huddersfield Town (R) both stretch to reach the balll during The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Huddersfield Town and Manchester City at John Smith's Stadium on February 18, 2017 in Huddersfield, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

[ MORE: Wenger says he’ll manage next season, at Arsenal or not ]

Millwall 1-0 Leicester City

A miserable, relegation-threatened season got (somehow) worse for Leicester City on Saturday, as they bowed out of the FA Cup following a 1-0 defeat at the hands of 10-man (for nearly 40 minutes) League One side Millwall. Shaun Cummings scored the game’s only goal, in the 90th minute, and the best possible thing that could have propped up the Foxes’ 2016-17 season has gone.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Shaun Cummings of Millwall (C) celebrates scoring his sides first goal with his Millwall team mates during The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Millwall and Leicester City at The Den on February 18, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Elsewhere in the FA Cup

Burnley 0-1 Lincoln City — RECAP | REACTION

Saturday’s FA Cup schedule

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Chelsea — 12:30 p.m. ET — FOLLOW LIVE

Sunday’s FA Cup schedule

Fulham vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 9 a.m. ET
Blackburn Rovers vs. Manchester United — 11:15 a.m. ET

Monday’s FA Cup schedule

Sutton United vs. Arsenal — 2:55 p.m. ET