We are more stable – Pep Guardiola hails Manchester City’s development in Europe

By Sports Desk April 09, 2024

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola hailed his side’s character after the Champions League holders played out a thrilling 3-3 draw at Real Madrid.

Guardiola claimed the City of previous years could easily have crumbled under the weight of pressure as the Spanish giants twice hit back in a compelling quarter-final first leg at the Bernabeu.

City led after just two minutes through Bernardo Silva but Real hit back to go in front with a Ruben Dias own goal and Rodrygo effort.

Phil Foden and Josko Gvardiol turned the game around again with stunning second-half efforts but Federico Valverde levelled to ensure next week’s return clash at the Etihad Stadium will begin evenly poised.

Guardiola said: “I think it was really good. Two teams that want to attack. The quality of the goals was fantastic.

“What I liked most is how we played in the second half. We were 2-1 down, playing here without much composure.

“They are so dangerous on transitions and could score more goals but we controlled the game really well.

“This game, in the first three seasons together, we’d have lost 4-1 or 5-1 as we were not stable emotionally.

“You need time to learn and now we are more stable and hopefully in the future we can do better and better.

“We went 2-3 but here it is never over. It’s Madrid, it’s special. We take the result and in one week in Manchester, with our people, it will be sold out and they will help us.”

City were without chief playmaker Kevin De Bruyne after he was sick shortly before kick-off.

Guardiola said: “He started to vomit when we arrived and he didn’t feel good to play.

“But one of the secrets at the high levels is to adapt quickly to chaos. There is no time to complain.”

In De Bruyne’s absence, it was Foden who played the key role as City recovered from their half-time deficit.

Guardiola said: “Phil was not involved in the first half. He was not one of the best performers but he has this spark and incredible talent to score goals and create something.”

Foden was taken off with an injury late on but Guardiola played down fears it was serious.

He said: “It’s a knock. He was grumpy with me for the substitution so that means he’s OK.”

Real manager Carlo Ancelotti, who was taking charge of his 200th game in the competition, felt the result was fair.

“It was a well-balanced game,” the Italian said. “Both teams really competed to the limit. It was a hard-fought draw.

“They scored early but we reacted really well and played excellently for 60 minutes, but City scored two unstoppable goals.”

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