Which Premier League team suits Pep Guardiola best?


The Pep Guardiola stakes are getting very serious.

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Various reports claim the this week the current Bayern Munich manager is set to announce he will leave the German champions when his contract expires at the end of this season, which will send some of the Premier League’s biggest teams into a frenzy.

With Manchester City linked with a move for Guardiola for many years, they seem the most likely destination, however given the issues at both Chelsea and Manchester United, Guardiola is a man in demand.

Following Chelsea’s decision to fire Jose Mourinho on Thursday, they could make an even bigger play to go for Pep now or in the summer.

[ MORE: Predicting how final PL table will look ]

Let’s take a look at which PL club would suit Pep best if he decides to take his talents to England.

Manchester City 

The frontrunners for Guardiola, City’s endless resources mean the former Barcelona boss will be able to totally revamp City’s squad if he so chooses. The fact that two of City’s influential directors, Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano, are both from Barcelona and worked closely with Pep during his time at the Nou Camp means his ideology can be easily spread throughout the club. Guardiola would almost be the final piece in a painstakingly assembled jigsaw puzzle. The players are there. The stadium and resources are there. Now — despite Manuel Pellegrini delivering a PL title, a League Cup and guiding City to three-straight last 16 appearances in the UEFA Champions League — a manager of Guardiola’s caliber would mesh everything together. Expect City to throw an open check book at Guardiola when it becomes clear he’s leaving Bayern.

Guardiola-ness rating: 9/10

Manchester United

With Louis van Gaal’s team struggling to provide entertainment and goals, the Old Trafford faithful are losing faith in the Dutchman’s philosophy. Despite returning United back to the top four in his first season in charge LVG’s side were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League in the group stage and many believe most of the $400 million he has spent on new signings has been wasted. With Guardiola you can expect a similar possession based style but it is possession with a perhaps. United clearly have players who can keep the ball. Now installing a manager whose philosophy is more direct and attack-minded could take it to the next level with his reputation also able to attract the best talents on the planet to arrive at United. A Manchester battle for Pep will almost certainly arrive with van Gaal’s contract up in 2017, but he has already intimated that he could leave earlier than that if his players don’t buy into his philosophy. Right now, they aren’t and a change of manager is what most of the United faithful are screaming out for.

Guardiola-ness rating: 7/10


We all know about Chelsea’s problems this season as the Blues are currently in a relegation battle and without a manager after Jose Mourinho was fired. Sure, Chelsea probably won’t go down, but the reigning PL champs are in a rut with Mourinho gone. With Chelsea’s billionaire owner Roman Abramovich deciding to cut ties with Mourinho, handing Guardiola the keys to his prized possession would be a wise move. Again, Chelsea have the ways and means to scrap their current squad and start a fresh which is perhaps the best option at this point. Chelsea would have the edge if Guardiola decides he wants to live in London over Manchester, which is a decision that has swayed the minds of many players and managers in the past. Like Man City and Man United, everything else is in place at the club but having a manager with fresh ideas and the ability to attract some of the best players in the world is what will really knit everything together.

Guardiola-ness rating: 8/10

Champions League preview: Spurs host Leipzig, Valencia visits Atalanta

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Two more UEFA Champions League Round of 16 ties kickoff Wednesday, including one being labeled as the biggest in a club’s existence.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

That would be Serie A side Atalanta, which hosts Valencia at 3 p.m. at Gewiss Stadium.

Atalanta had played in two consecutive Europa Leagues, but this is their first move into the Champions League. To make the knockout rounds is exceptional, and club president Antonio Percassi is fired up.

“We must be honest, this is the most important game in the history of this club,” Percassi told Sky Sport Italia. “It doesn’t seem real. It’s exciting just thinking that tomorrow we’ll be in a Champions League Round of 16. It’s wonderful for our fans too. … This is going to be a unique experience that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.”

Atalanta finished second in its group to Manchester City, and is fourth in Serie A. Valencia won its group.

There’s a Premier League side in action on Wednesday, too, as Spurs begin life without Heung-Min Son.

Jose Mourinho spun a tale about how badly Tottenham will need its fans against RB Leipzig, comparing the home-field advantage to an emergency rescue crew of sorts.

Leipzig is led by Julian Nagelsmann, who was once referred to as “Baby Mourinho” by his players.

The 32-year-old was quick to distance himself from the story.

“Tomorrow it is Leipzig against Tottenham, not Mourinho v. Baby Mourinho,” he said. “I have great respect for Mourinho. He has won lots of titles with big clubs, the Champions League twice. He has made his mark on European football at some big European clubs. I think it his 59th knockout game in the CL and it is my first so there is obviously respect there.”

Liverpool’s Robertson not a fan of Atletico Madrid theatrics

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Liverpool fullback Andy Robertson was not impressed with Atletico Madrid’s display as his side fell 1-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The Reds fell behind on a fourth-minute Saul Niguez goal and couldn’t get a shot on target despite 73 percent possession in Spain.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Atleti executed its plan to near-perfection, slowing restarts and taking advantage of counterattacking opportunities to assuage the constant pressure of Liverpool.

At times it was reminiscent of early-century Italian national team play, and both neutrals and Liverpool knew what they were in for once Atleti took the lead.

“We gave them the best possible start to get the fans behind them and then they can start falling over and things like that, trying to get under our skin a bit which I think we handled quite well to be honest,” Robertson told BT Sport. “We know we are better than (how they played). We put in a decent performance and we can be better than that. Luckily we have got a second leg to put it right.”

Given the performance and the reputation, you’d still fancy the Reds to “put it right” at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp thinks Atleti will feel plenty of pressure at Anfield, and he will certainly feel the officiating will be more to his liking.

Liverpool’s Klopp: ‘Our people will be ready’ for second leg at Anfield

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Jurgen Klopp didn’t have any issue with Diego Simeone’s defense-first Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The Spanish side flummoxed Liverpool’s attack and the Reds didn’t manage a shot on target despite eight attempts and 73 percent possession at the Wanda Metropolitano.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

What Klopp didn’t appreciate was the referee’s work, though, implying that Polish official Szymon Marciniak was overwhelmed by the occasion. Marciniak has worked UCL matches for six seasons, twice overseeing quarterfinal ties.

Klopp was shown a yellow card in the second half, and the Liverpool boss felt Sadio Mane was harassed by Atleti. Klopp removed yellow-carrying Mane at halftime.

“He was targeted obviously,” Klopp said after the game. “The only thing they wanted was to make sure he got a yellow card. The score is 1-0, that’s all but you need to be really strong as a ref in this atmosphere. So many things happened, after 30 minutes already three players were on the ground. The first yellow card was a striker from us. I’m not sure they even got a yellow card, which is funny.”

Atleti’s Angel Correa was shown a yellow, while Klopp, Mane, and Joe Gomez were cautioned for Liverpool.

The Liverpool boss found himself laughing a few times, especially when he was asked about Simeone’s touchline personality.

Klopp said before the game that if the German was a four in intensity, then Simeone was a 12. Simeone followed suit by constantly urging the crowd to get behind the home side on Tuesday.

That didn’t bother Klopp, but he issued a public relations officer’s dream in reacting to it.

“Wow, wow,” he laughed. “That’s energy. I don’t think I have to do it that much (at Anfield). Our people will be ready. Welcome to Anfield. It’s not over yet.”

Klopp finished his remarks by saying of Jordan Henderson‘s removal from the game with a hamstring injury, “I hope it was a precaution, but I’m not 100 percent sure”

Haaland wins first leg after Borussia Dortmund-PSG comes to life late

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Erling Haaland scored twice in a mid-second half flurry as Borussia Dortmund beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The hosts also got an assist from teenager Giovanni Reyna, who became the youngest American to appear in a Champions League match.

Haaland now has 39 goals in 29 appearances between Red Bull Salzburg and BVB, 11 of those for his new German employer.

Neymar scored off a Kylian Mbappe goal for PSG, who brings an away goal back to the Parc des Princes for a March 11 second leg.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Neymar had an early free kick, missing just wide of the far post.

Jadon Sancho troubled the keeper twice in the first half hour, first with a cross that Mats Hummels headed over goal. Then, Keylor Navas picked another Sancho offering out of the air.

Sancho kept serving, and Erling Haaland couldn’t turn a promising cross on target.

Dortmund walked into halftime with a scoreless match but a 7-2 edge in shot attempts. Neither of PSG’s shots were on target.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre put in American teen Giovani Reyna in the 67th minute.

Two minutes later, it was 1-0 to the hosts through Haaland’s close-range goal.

Neymar replied from close range himself after a powerful, clever dribble from Kylian Mbappe led to a pass through the box.

But Haaland got his second in the 77th minute with a scorching shot that serves as the first senior assist of Reyna’s senior career with Dortmund (Watch it here).