Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola sets sights on Club World Cup

By Sports Desk August 16, 2023

Pep Guardiola is targeting the Club World Cup to complete the set after Manchester City overcame a sloppy start to beat Sevilla on spot-kicks to lift the UEFA Super Cup.

Two months on from becoming the second English club in history to win the treble, the Champions League holders faced the record Europa League winners in Greece.

Sevilla took the lead through Youssef En-Nesyri’s towering header and had numerous chances to extend their lead before City struck back through Cole Palmer’s looping header.

The Super Cup ended 1-1 after 90 minutes and Guardiola’s men triumphed on penalties 5-4 after Nemanja Gudelj smashed the last spot-kick of the shoot-out off the bar.

This was the first time City have won the competition and the Spaniard is determined to add the Club World Cup to their cabinet in December.

“Of course we are not in the best, best moment, I would say,” Guardiola said after winning his fourth Super Cup as a coach.

“But knowing a little bit the players and the mentality of the backroom staff, I had a feeling that we will try.

“We are really pleased to have already one title in this season. Really pleased for the club – this title we didn’t have and now we have it.

“We miss just one to finish all circle and be able for this club to win all the titles we can have. It’s happening in December, when we go to Saudi Arabia to play there, the (Club) World Cup.

“I would say really, really pleased. A tight game like happened in the (Champions League) final against Inter, a tight game that we lost in the last minute against Arsenal (in the Community Shield). Football in these stages, in that moment, in that period is a coin (flip).”

This was an energy-sapping night for City in hot and humid Piraeus, where the match kicked off at 10pm local time and finished in the early hours of Thursday morning.

It is a quick turnaround after a tough test, leading Guardiola to take a pop at the Premier League for scheduling their next match against Newcastle on Saturday evening.

“Of course tomorrow will be even more happier than today,” he said, with City due to fly back to the north west on Thursday.

“Recover, not one drop of alcohol today. Recover as much as possible because again, from Greece, thank you so much for the Premier League to let us play on Saturday. And not on Sunday and Monday. Thank you so much.”

The star man for City was player of the match Palmer, who followed his fine finish in the eventual Community Shield shoot-out loss to Arsenal by scoring a clever header in Greece.

The 21-year-old has been subject of speculation this summer and Guardiola ruled out a loan move for the home-grown talent.

“The opinion I had when he arrived is he wanted to leave, but now I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.

“I don’t think a loan is going to happen. He’s going to stay or going to sell, but I think a loan is not going to happen.

“He has a character. It’s not easy to play against defenders like (Marcos) Acuna, for example, who is a top defender.

“It’s not easy, it’s a final. He’s a young player playing in these stages. It’s not easy for these guys. He played really, really good and made a fantastic goal, too.”

As for Sevilla, the shoot-out heartbreak represented a sixth successive Super Cup loss.

Head coach Jose Luis Mendilibar said: “To make a good plan against a team as good as City is very complicated. I really wish we’d played higher up the pitch and put them under more pressure.

“When we had the chances to score the second goal, we didn’t take them. But I really believe we played a good game, and we probably created more chances than them.”

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