Pep Guardiola claims Manchester City bear comparison to Barça and Bayern

• Manager says his current team play faster football than his former charges
• Guardiola praises City’s display in Chelsea defeat as they prepare for Celtic

Pep Guardiola offered a glimpse of his unique vision of football when he said Manchester City have been better at times this season than his gilded Barcelona and Bayern Munich sides. Before the club’s final Champions League group match on Tuesday night, a dead rubber against Celtic, the word he chose to describe City’s finest passages of play under him was “faster” than Barça and Bayern.

This may cause some surprise given the quality of those previous teams. Barcelona claimed 14 major trophies, including two Champions League titles, between 2009 and 2012 while the count at Bayern was seven in three seasons. In particular, the Barcelona side who swept all before them in Guardiola’s first season as manager are considered one of the finest in history.

Yet just 23 matches into his City tenure, Guardiola was full of praise for his side despite their defeat by Chelsea on Saturday when they conceded three times in the final 30 minutes before Fernandinho and Sergio Agüero were sent off.

“We play good – faster than in Munich and even in Barcelona, when we had one player [Messi], who was amazing and helped us to create those steps,” he said. “In general, I am so satisfied in the short time we have been together. We attack with 10 players and try not to concede on the counterattack. I decide this because I did it all my career, attacking smaller spaces and defending bigger spaces. For that you need time but I am sure when you are able to do it you are more attractive and you are more safe.

“Of course, we need time in a world we don’t have. But in general I’m satisfied. When we are talking about the last game, I’m so satisfied. I saw again the game and what we have to improve and how many things we did well.”

As to his comparison of City with Barcelona and Bayern, Guardiola’s view that the display in losing to Chelsea gives him hope that “this season is going to be good” may seem counterintuitive. A Guardiola mantra, though, is that what matters is how well the side play rather than, necessarily, the result.

Also stark is his contentment with life in English football after an opening four months. “I am enjoying it a lot,” Guardiola said. “Of course, when I win I am happier and when I don’t win I am not so happy. I am enjoying working with the guys and where I am working. I am trying to do my best. The biggest challenge was when I started working at Barcelona, I had to create my career. I go to Germany to improve myself, I come here to improve myself. I would not be here if in Barcelona I didn’t make [it] good. It would be another coach here. I was in Bayern Munich because I was quite good in Barcelona. I am here because I was quite good in Germany.”

With qualification secured for the Champions League knockout phase, the last-16 draw in Nyon on Monday is keenly awaited. Yet Guardiola believes current form may be irrelevant to their chances of progressing against whoever they will meet in the spring.

Pep Guardiola reacts after Manchester City’s defeat by Chelsea

“In my experience in the Champions League, it is how you arrive, how you are, in February. Now Monday is going to be the draw and we will analyse the team and say who is the favourite to go to the next round. But in February many things are going to happen before. That is why I am so happy to be [already] there, to prepare the game. I have to focus on Leicester and Watford and Arsenal [in the Premier League]. What I have to think about as a coach is the way we play.”

Willy Caballero could be in line to start against Celtic after he was presented to the media in Monday’s pre-match conference. Despite the game being academic, the goalkeeper will have no problem regarding focus if he is selected.

“I think just playing in the Champions League is a big motivation,” the Argentinian said. “When you hear the hymn or the song of the Champions League, it’s a big motivation for every player. It’s the most important competition in the world, for a team, for a player. This is enough but you have to respect this kind of game. We are going to play against a champion team. We have to be focused and play in the same way that we did against Borussia and Barcelona.”


Jamie Jackson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Pep Guardiola calls on Manchester City to ‘punish’ Bayern Munich in second leg
Pep Guardiola has called on Manchester City to forget previous Champions League defeats and ‘punish’ Bayern Munich in the quarter-final second leg

Jamie Jackson in Munich

18, Apr, 2023 @7:12 PM

Article image
Pep Guardiola warns Bayern players about threat of Manchester City
Bayern Munich’s coach, Pep Guardiola, has told his players not to take Manchester City lightly

Jamie Jackson in Munich

16, Sep, 2014 @7:09 PM

Article image
Guardiola wary of Bayern in second leg despite Manchester City’s dominant win
The manager insists the Champions League tie is not over despite a three-goal advantage, saying: ‘If you don’t perform, they are able to score one, two, three’

Jamie Jackson at the Etihad Stadium

11, Apr, 2023 @10:41 PM

Article image
Pep Guardiola says Manchester City learnt lesson in Celtic draw
The Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he wanted a more clinical approach in front of goal while Brendan Rodgers praised the Celtic support in their 3-3 draw

Jamie Jackson at Celtic Park

28, Sep, 2016 @10:51 PM

Article image
Pep Guardiola tells Manchester City to ignore ‘little record’ at Celtic
Pep Guardiola said he is not concerned about equalling Tottenham’s record-setting 11 successive wins when Manchester City visit Celtic

Marcus Christenson

27, Sep, 2016 @8:31 PM

Article image
Pep Guardiola says beating Barcelona can transform Manchester City future
Pep Guardiola claimed Manchester City’s enthralling 3-1 victory over Barcelona would prove the foundation for future Champions League success

Andy Hunter at the Etihad Stadium

02, Nov, 2016 @7:59 AM

Article image
Manchester City are not haunted by 2021 final defeat, insists Pep Guardiola
‘I was sad but I congratulated him and Chelsea for the victory,’ said the Manchester City manager before facing Thomas Tuchel’s Bayern Munich in the Champions League

Jamie Jackson

10, Apr, 2023 @3:48 PM

Article image
Manchester City are not at Barcelona’s level yet, says Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola has warned against comparing Manchester City to the Barcelona side who ‘dominated for 20 years’ before his side’s Champions League last-16 second leg against Basel

Jamie Jackson

06, Mar, 2018 @5:07 PM

Article image
Barcelona rematch is now a 'final' for Manchester City, says Guardiola
Pep Guardiola warns Manchester City that Champions League defeat at home to Barcelona may have costly repercussions if Borussia Mönchengladbach beat Celtic in the same group

Daniel Taylor

31, Oct, 2016 @4:01 PM

Article image
Pep Guardiola heads home for ultimate test of early Manchester City progress | Paul Wilson
Faced with his first wobble in England, the City manager goes back to Barcelona and has denied he has been caught out by the intensity of the Premier League

Paul Wilson

19, Oct, 2016 @9:00 AM