Tuchel: Guardiola's City the highest level European football has to offer

By Sports Desk April 10, 2023

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City offer the highest level of football in Europe, according to Bayern Munich head coach Thomas Tuchel.

The Bavarian side travel to the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday to face an in-form City side in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

Guardiola's men have won their last seven in all competitions to leave their fans dreaming of a potential treble, hot on the tails of Premier League leaders Arsenal, while they have reached the latter stages of both the Champions League and FA Cup.

Tuesday's game will only be Tuchel's fourth game in charge of Bayern since replacing the sacked Julian Nagelsmann, and his side head into the match as underdogs to progress through the tie despite lifting the famous trophy as recently as the 2019-20 season.

Tuchel lauded Guardiola's influence on City and ranked them as one of the finest teams in Europe, though he also feels that makes the opportunity to dump them out of Europe even more enticing having beat the Citizens in the 2020-21 final while he was Chelsea boss.

"I think you can clearly see that there's six or seven years of Pep in this team, very offensive with and without the ball, extreme high pressing," Tuchel told reporters at his pre-match news conference. 

"I think that Pep proves everywhere that he gives his teams his own touch. I can learn about football by playing against his teams, it makes me a better coach. It's unique what he's doing there. They play much more fluently than in recent years. 

"It's the highest level that European football has to offer. They're showing that in the league too. That makes the task appealing. We have to solve it as a team. Maybe we'll be a bit of the underdog tomorrow, but we have to have confidence in our abilities."

City have been spearheaded by striker Erling Haaland, who has netted 44 goals in all competitions this season in just his first campaign in England since joining from Borussia Dortmund.

Tuchel is wary of the threat Haaland, and the rest of City's forwards, will pose on Tuesday, saying: "The numbers, the athleticism, the hunger for goals is incredibly impressive.

"It's not just him. The game speed is high, they create a lot of chances for Haaland and he has the ambition to score a lot of goals. We will only solve this together."

Defender Matthijs de Ligt will be one of those tasked with trying to keep Haaland quiet at the Etihad, and he feels it will need a complete team effort to do so.

"I think Manchester City is the strongest team of all," the Netherlands international said. "They've won the Premier League four times in the last five years, and now they've also got a striker like Erling Haaland.

"It's important that we organise the defence well, also with the midfielders. We have to put in a top performance to stop a striker like Haaland."

Bayern will be without one of their own strikers as a knee issue means Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who has scored four Champions League goals this term, will miss out.

Serge Gnabry could be the player Tuchel opts to play up front, with the 49-year-old explaining: "I don't think there's anything wrong with Serge playing on the nine for us. He has a good finish with both feet, good speed and is good at dribbling."

Related items

  • Championship leaders Leicester stunned by Mustapha Bundu’s winner for Plymouth Championship leaders Leicester stunned by Mustapha Bundu’s winner for Plymouth

    Leaders Leicester missed the chance to move clear at the top of the Championship as they suffered a shock 1-0 defeat away to relegation-threatened Plymouth, thanks to Mustapha Bundu’s 21st-minute winner.

    Second-placed Ipswich remain level on points with the Foxes, with Leeds a point further back ahead of their games on Saturday with all three clubs currently having four matches left.

    Managerless Argyle climbed to 16th on the back of their first home win in seven, under the caretaker management team of director of football Neil Dewsnip and first-team coach Kevin Nancekivell and now sit five points clear of the bottom three.

    It only took five minutes for Leicester to test home goalkeeper Michael Cooper as Abdul Fatawu’s thumping right-footed shot – following a flowing move – forcing him into a diving save low down to his left.

    Ricardo Pereira was next to test Cooper, following a defence-splitting one-two with Wilfred Ndidi. Again it was all diving Cooper could do to parry the ball away.

    Stephy Mavididi latched on to the aerial ball and headed it back across the goal, which resulted in a goalmouth scramble and Argyle eventually clearing the ball.

    Mavididi went close with a curling 13th-minute shot after being teed up by playmaker Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall on the edge of the box. The attacking midfielder’s shot beat Cooper for pace but flew just past the post.

    Totally against the run of play, Plymouth stunned their visitors with a 21st-minute goal on the counter.

    Adam Forshaw intercepted a Leicester attack and released recalled striker Bundu with a superb, measured pass through the middle of the park.

    Bundu sprinted forward and – as he got into the penalty box – let fly with a fierce angled drive from the right that beat diving Mads Hermansen and rocketed into the far corner.

    Harry Winks fired wide from 20 yards as Argyle failed to clear their lines following another City corner with the half-hour mark approaching.

    Argyle’s next best chance fell to Bundu, after good work by Forshaw and substitute Joe Edwards, but this time the striker fired high over.

    Cooper did well to save low at his near post as Dewsbury-Hall fired across the face of goal in the 44th minute from close range.

    Cooper was again called into action early in the second half as he made another save, while Dewsbury-Hall tried his luck from 25 yards moments later.

    Central defender Dan Scarr did well to stoop and head a pacy Fatawu cross from the right away at the near post as Leicester continued to press or an equaliser.

    Fatawu’s next cross from the right – after 56 minutes – found striker Patson Daka and his deft near-post touch beat Cooper but spun past the far upright.

    Daka’s last action was firing wide when well placed at the far post after 67 minutes. He was replaced by former England international striker Jamie Vardy.

    With just over 15 minutes remaining, Wout Faes’ cross from the right was smashed towards goal by Mavididi but again, Cooper was equal to the effort.

    Cooper made an even better stop, bravely diving in to deny Vardy as the Leicester striker broke into the box, one-on-one, in the 88th minute but the hosts held on for the much-needed victory.

  • Ange Postecoglou: I’ve no interest in filming a new docuseries at Tottenham Ange Postecoglou: I’ve no interest in filming a new docuseries at Tottenham

    Ange Postecoglou has no interest in following the lead of Newcastle and other clubs, which includes his own, of allowing the TV cameras inside the Tottenham dressing room to film a documentary.

    Spurs return to St James’ Park on Saturday for the first time since their 6-1 thrashing last April, which features in a recent docuseries about the north-east club.

    Episode three of the four-part series focuses on a match which proved the nadir of a sorry season for Tottenham and subsequently resulted in the appointment of Postecoglou in June.

    This documentary about Newcastle is the latest in a collection of sports series by Amazon Prime, which includes Spurs’ 2019-20 campaign where then-manager Jose Mourinho predictably proved a TV star, but the current coach in the hotseat has no such burning desire.

    “Nah, unless you want a cure for insomnia, mate. Put it on late at night and dream yourself away,” Postecoglou replied when asked if he would feature in a behind-the-lens documentary.

    “I’ve probably watched… I watched Sunderland ‘Til I Die, it was good.

    “(Not Tottenham) because I just think it becomes a bit manufactured. I’d be very surprised if you get a real sort of glance.

    “Look, who am I to say? I’m no movie critic. Maybe people like them, but not for me. I love documentaries, but nah.”

    The Newcastle documentary is not the only footage Postecoglou has no interest in viewing.

    He has also declined to watch back Tottenham’s five-goal humbling away to Eddie Howe’s team last season, which resulted in Spurs dismissing Cristian Stellini after he had stepped up on an interim basis to replace Antonio Conte, who left a month earlier.

    Postecoglou added: “I might have watched individual players in that game but I wouldn’t have watched the game as a reference point because it’s totally different.

    “It’s a different set of circumstances, different manager. I’m really reticent to judge and try to figure out what someone else thinks because I’m not in their shoes on a daily basis.

    “I have never used those kind of things and also, irrespective of what has happened in the past, I have more than likely been brought in to do something differently.

    “I watched all the players individually through the whole season to do my research on the players I was inheriting, but there wasn’t a lot for me to be gained from watching matches and trying to get some reference points as to how that’s going to affect what I am going to do.”

    Spurs travel to Newcastle in pole position to claim Champions League football after they leapfrogged Aston Villa last weekend to take control of the battle for fourth.

    Postecoglou has often cited the Magpies as an example of why qualifying for Europe’s elite competition is not a guarantee of long-term success, but was happy to talk up the potential of the Tottenham squad on Friday.

    “That’s the exciting thing for me with this group – we’ve got a real core and there’s still so much growth in them,” he explained.

    “Invariably, it’s their first season in the Premier League or they’re young in age and they’ve adapted so well at a big club where there are expectations.

    “It’s not like they’re going to fly under the radar by doing two or three years before moving to a big club. They’re under the spotlight straightaway.

    “I have been pleased with that, with the way the guys have accepted the challenge of playing for the club and challenging them to play in a certain way – and it’s going to expose them in many respects – but they’ve not shied away from that.”

  • Erling Haaland ‘extremely happy’ at Man City despite criticism – Pep Guardiola Erling Haaland ‘extremely happy’ at Man City despite criticism – Pep Guardiola

    Pep Guardiola has dismissed Erling Haaland’s critics and insisted the Manchester City striker is continuing to make a big impact.

    Haaland has scored 30 goals for City this term but only one in his last five. After Roy Keane last week claimed the Norway international was comparable to a League Two player in his general play, Jamie Carragher this week described him as “the ultimate luxury footballer” and said he was not world class.

    But asked if he was happy with Haaland’s all-round contribution, Guardiola said: “A lot. He helps us to make more spaces in the areas and his contribution has been exceptional since the day he arrived last season.”

    Guardiola said pundits “can do whatever they want”, but insisted he was only interested in the performance of his team, who are still in contention to repeat last season’s treble after drawing the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie against Real Madrid 3-3 on Tuesday night.

    City can go top of the Premier League for 24 hours at least if they beat Luton on Saturday, and face an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea next weekend.

    “We are quite similar to last season,” Guardiola said. “We scored four goals, four goals, three goals in the last three games, 11 goals in three games.

    “And (Haaland) helped us score some of them (by) creating lots of spaces for the other ones to score the goals. I saw in his face, in what he said after the game, in the locker room, he was extremely happy (in Madrid).

    “It was a good result, let’s see what happens next Wednesday. Now the target is Luton.”

    Bidding to win the Premier League for a fourth straight season, City remain locked in a tight race at the top. They start the weekend a point behind both Arsenal and Liverpool, with their rivals not in action until Sunday.

    City have twice won the title on the final day of the season under Guardiola, but this is the first time they have faced a three-way title race so late in the campaign.

    “We know what we have to do,” Guardiola said. “We’ve done it. The people say, ‘you’ve done it, so you’re going to win’. No, it’s not about that. But we have done it and know exactly what we have to do.

    “The players will be ready. There is no doubt about that. We know what we are playing for.”

    Although a treble repeat is still possible, there is a sense City have not been at the same standards this term, with injuries taking a toll.

    “(The players) know how tough it has been this season for many reasons, maybe one of the toughest seasons we have faced for sure,” Guardiola added.

    “We know exactly internally how difficult it has been in many, many moments this season and we were still there, we were there. I know the players will be ready.”

    After Tuesday’s match in Madrid, Rodri had said he was in need of a rest after his 41st appearance of the season. Guardiola indicated any player who wanted a breather need only ask, but that he expects the 27-year-old Spain midfielder to be available to face Luton.

    “It is normal,” Guardiola said. “If one player feels that, what is the problem? All the teams who play in the latter stages of all competitions, Champions League, Europa League, fighting for qualifications, or against relegation, all have the same problem with the amount of games…

    “I’m pretty sure Rodri will be ready. I know him. After the game he was tired because it was tough, the game against Real Madrid. He came from Crystal Palace and it was really tough as well.

    “But I know him. He will arrive and say, ‘I’m fine, I’m ready’.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.