Pep Guardiola has urged his Manchester City players to go out and play the “perfect” game against Liverpool as they look to overturn a 3-0 deficit from the first leg and reach the UEFA Champions League semifinal.
Following two defeats in a matter of days at Liverpool in the UCL and then a crushing 3-2 loss at home to Manchester United (after leading 2-0 at half time) in the Manchester Derby with their title party put on hold, it’s been a tough week for Guardiola’s side.
City had never previously lost back-to-back game since he took charge in the summer of 2016 but Guardiola still believes they can pull off a monumental comeback against Liverpool.
“To go through you have to make almost the perfect game,” Guardiola said. “We have 90 minutes and in football anything can happen. We will have to think about how many goals we will score. We have to score the first one. Then after that the second one… Football, like life, is a challenge. This is a new one.”
No matter what happens on Tuesday, Man City will be crowned champions of the Premier League very soon, as possibly as early as this Sunday.
And Guardiola remains proud of the way his team continues to perform and said he was “delighted” with their display even though they lost in devastating fashion to United on Saturday.
“The way they [City’s players] play all season in every single game. I know we judge on results but the performance… my team is exceptional. I will be close to them no matter what happens,” Guardiola said. “It is a joy to be manager of the team. I am so delighted to lose the way we lose against United. I don’t want to lose and we are sad for the fans, but the way we played, even after 3-2, the way we play was outstanding.”
The main message from Guardiola to his players was this: don’t give up. And with regards to their display on Saturday, you have to say they should have led by four or five goals at half time had they taken their chances. That was without Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus on the pitch. City have the ability to score early and often and, just like Liverpool, they only know one way to play: attack, attack, attack.
City’s players know that scoring the first goal is the most important on Tuesday and if that happens they have the ability to score four or five quickly.
Man City beat 10-man Liverpool 5-0 in the PL earlier this season at home, and scored three goals in their 4-3 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield in January. So they know they’re capable of scoring goals against the Jurgen Klopp‘s attack-minded team.
The big question in this game is this: will Liverpool be able to sit back and defend and not play their usual game of high-pressing and forcing the issue?
Klopp’s men sitting on their three-goal advantage may just give City the inspiration they need to bounce back after a tough week and deliver the “almost perfect” display Pep craves.