Pep Guardiola appreciates when teams, whether at home or away, try to play against his team — on the micro, because it benefits his side when the opposition doesn’t bunker in defensively; on the macro, it’s how he believes the game is supposed to be played — and he’s quick to praise the opposing manager in such an instance.
In his mind, the game and the fans are massive beneficiaries when a side like Bristol City, who on Tuesday suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the runaway Premier League leaders but made every effort to take the game to Man City, are ambitious in their plan of attack and confident in their abilities to execute it.
While some might view City’s growing propensity for the kind of late, dramatic victory we saw on Tuesday, as a chink in the armor — a susceptibility, perhaps — Guardiola believes that never-stop-fighting attitude is an important part of his side’s newfound identity, and a big reason they currently sit 15 points clear in the PL title race — quotes from the BBC:
“My players were fantastic because in football you can win, you can lose, but we try until the end. We win many games in the last minutes because we don’t give up. A semifinal is always complicated.
“I said congratulations to Lee Johnson on full-time, they are a fantastic team for many reasons. They can play, they are fast, they know exactly what to do. It will be tough in Bristol.”
Bristol manager Lee Johnson saw it similarly to the above quotes from Guradiola. The Robins, which currently sit fourth in the Championship, just two points out of the second automatic promotion place, looked like they belonged on the same field as City on Tuesday — quotes from the BBC:
“Very proud of my team. Disappointed with their goal late on but the boys were magnificent. We came here and tried to play our game and caused a few problems. You concede possession now and again because of the quality of the opposition. It is only half time and we are well in this tie.
“I said to them ‘you’ve been fantastic. We rode our luck but we broke and got men in the box. The pressing was amazing for the first goal. They can’t be disappointed as we are still in the tie. They have shown the world we are good footballers.”