Guardiola lauds Jesus' intensity

By Sports Desk February 26, 2020

Pep Guardiola says there is not a striker in world football who has as much intensity off the ball as Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus after the Brazilian played a starring role in Wednesday's win over Real Madrid.

The 22-year-old was chosen ahead of Sergio Aguero for the Champions League last-16 first leg and repaid his manager's faith with a fine display.

Isco's opener on the hour looked handed Madrid the advantage in the tie, but Jesus – starting on the left flank alongside a more central Kevin De Bruyne – pulled City level.

Belgium international De Bruyne then sealed a memorable win from the penalty spot.  

Guardiola was fulsome in his praise of Jesus afterwards, telling a media conference: "There is not one striker in the world who has the intensity without the ball like Gabriel.

"He is a guy who makes incredible runs in behind. He is not an especially good player when he receives the ball to the front, but when he starts from the side to make diagonal runs, he is so fast, so good.

"We decided to play without a proper striker because of the way Madrid defend. They defend a special way. They are so aggressive, man-to-man at the goal-kicks, so high and when this happens you have to make the pitch wide.

"If you don't it's so difficult to put balls in front of Sergio Ramos, [Raphael] Varane, [Luka] Modric and [Federico] Valverde.

"We want to put the balls in diagonals to the wingers as quickly as possible and in the first minutes we suffered but after 15 minutes we got [Ilkay] Gundogan and Rodri involved and more fluidity with that."

Guardiola insists the tie is far from over, though, and says Madrid's rich history in the competition means they are more than capable of turning things around in Manchester on March 17.

"Now, I am pretty sure Zidane and his people will look at what I have done and the second game will be different," he added.

"Today we're happy but the second leg will be close. I'm not worried but still it is not over and if there's one team in the world which can overcome it, with their history, it is Real Madrid.

"Hopefully we can put in a good performance and go through."

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