UCL Review: Spurs send City crashing out of Champions League, Liverpool through

By George Davis,Chris Taylor& Lance Whittaker April 17, 2019

Tottenham and Liverpool advanced to the semi-finals of the Champions League in high-scoring affairs on Thursday.

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  • Guardiola launches Manchester City defence after accusation of 'arrogance' Guardiola launches Manchester City defence after accusation of 'arrogance'

    Pep Guardiola has refuted at a "false" report from China's state-run media service which accused Manchester City of only visiting the country for financial gain.

    An English-language article published by the government-owned Xinhua News Agency took aim at the club's "arrogance" over a perceived disregard for local fans and media.

    City squared off in Premier League Asia Trophy matches against West Ham and Wolves in Nanjing and Shanghai respectively before departing for Hong Kong, where they play Kitchee on Wednesday.

    The accusations surprised Guardiola, whose attitude on the tour was cast in a negative light in comparison to the apparent "enthusiasm" of Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

    "I should say I don't agree and also that it's false," Guardiola said.

    "To make a statement like this, they have to know exactly what happened here in our club.

    "We had an incredible time in Shanghai. We were committed to the co-operation you have to do here in China. The people from the hotel, all the people asking us to do things – we were ready to do that.

    "That's why I can't understand what people are saying.

    "Maybe one journalist is a bit upset, I don't know why, but it's far away from the reality."

    City's original itinerary involved two additional days in China which were lost to delays flying out of Manchester.

    "For our club it's a huge experience to go abroad to other countries because we are not Manchester United, Liverpool, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich," Guardiola said. "They've been doing it for many years.

    "For us it's a new experience every season, it will help on the pitch and we did it last season. And off the pitch we are showing what an amazing club we are and how we are trying to be better every season.

    "I'm so proud of what we've done. All the marketing departments, all the people who've organised this tour.

    "And maybe next year or in two years we are going to come back to China when the club decides we should come."

  • Liverpool star Van Dijk dreams of Ballon d'Or victory Liverpool star Van Dijk dreams of Ballon d'Or victory

    Virgil van Dijk admits winning the Ballon d'Or after an exceptional season with Liverpool would be a dream come true.

    No defender has claimed the award since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006, the year he lifted the World Cup with Italy, but centre-back Van Dijk is a strong contender to break the drought.

    The 28-year-old shone as Liverpool won the Champions League last season and was crowned PFA Players' Player of the Year for his part in helping the Reds finish second in the Premier League.

    Already a revered figure at Anfield, Van Dijk could become the club's second Ballon d'Or recipient after Michael Owen in 2001.

    "If people are talking about it - you can't say it doesn't [excite you]," Van Dijk told Sky Sports.

    "But it's a subject we don't have any influence on. I can't change anything right now other than get fit, stay fit and that's the situation.

    "Winning something like that is a dream come true for every footballer in the world. If you don't then you just get on with it and try to perform better than last year.

    "It would be fantastic and I would be very proud.

    "But the main thing will be to focus on what we do all together and achieving the bigger goal - that's getting silverware with the club."

    Van Dijk and Liverpool are in the United States for pre-season ahead of another gruelling campaign.

    The European champions must contend with the usual domestic and Champions League commitments along with a trip to Qatar for the Club World Cup in December.

    Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp views the demands on modern players, including regular international matches and tournaments, as unsustainable.

    "It looks like nobody can imagine a week without football in the year," Klopp told reporters.

    "When did that happen? A game again, a game again.

    "It is difficult for the boys. Everything will be fine this season, but in the long term we have to change it. There must be breaks.

    "Come on, let them go. Be brave. Don't treat every game like it is the last of a decade."

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