Guardiola calls on Man City fans to help side overcome Spurs test

Wednesday, 2019-04-17 06:18:01
 Font Size:     |        Print
 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola during training - Champions League - Manchester City Training - Etihad Campus, Manchester, Britain - April 16, 2019. (Photo: Action Images via Reuters)
 Font Size:     |  

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola called on the home supporters to give his players their full support as they look to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Tottenham Hotspur in Wednesday’s second-leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.

But some tickets are still available for the match on the club’s website, and Guardiola admitted he was curious to see how the atmosphere turns out for this must-win game for City if it is to stay on track for an unprecedented quadruple this season.

City fans take a poor view of UEFA and routinely boo its anthem when it is played ahead of matches, partly due to a hefty fine the club received from European football’s governing body in 2014 for breaching financial fair play rules.

But Guardiola is hoping the fans will put their animosity to one side and give the team a lift on Wednesday night.

“At this stage, without supporters, we cannot go through. I’m expecting. I’m really curious to how our fans are going to react tomorrow,” Guardiola told a news conference.

“The last 20 months, (the players) are so proud with what they have done.

“They are human beings, they will have bad moments in the games, and at that moment we need our supporters,” he said.

When asked what kind of atmosphere he wants, Guardiola replied: “Like Liverpool (league victory in January)...but a little better.”

Even if they beat Spurs to reach the semi-finals, City will have no time to rest on their laurels as they face the north London club again in the Premier League on Saturday before visiting local rivals Manchester United on April 24.

With league leaders Liverpool two points ahead of City, who have a game in hand, Guardiola suggested the next seven days were crucial for his side’s season.

“If we don’t win these games we will be out of two competitions,” added. “They are absolute finals for us, I’ve had that feeling from weeks ago.

“I know how difficult our fixtures are and we play Tottenham and then the derby at Old Trafford and Burnley. All the games are tough. We don’t have rest.”

Utility player Oleksandr Zinchenko is the only doubt for City after midfielder Fernandinho returned to training following a short-term absence.

Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino believes Manchester City are "clear favourites" to win the Champions League but his players will give everything to defend their lead in the second leg of the quarter-finals.

General view during training - Champions League - Tottenham Hotspur Training - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - April 16, 2019. (Photo: Action Images via Reuters)

Spurs head to the Etihad Stadium with a 1-0 lead courtesy a Son Heung-min's late winner in the first leg last week.

With the League Cup already in the bag, Guardiola's side are second in the league, two points behind Liverpool but with a game in hand, and have also reached the FA Cup final.

But Pochettino is convinced his players are capable of defying the odds, despite the absence of the club's top scorer Harry Kane due to injury.

"Of course it is going to be tough, Manchester City is one of the best teams in the world and a clear favourite to win the Premier League and Champions League," Pochettino told reporters on Tuesday.

"It is difficult when Manchester City plays a final like they will play tomorrow.

"We are going to fight and hope for a very good performance. You need a bit of luck in important moments in the game. It will be an amazing challenge."

Spurs are sweating on the fitness of England midfielder Dele Alli, who fractured his hand during the first leg and missed the subsequent 4-0 league victory over Huddersfield Town last weekend.

"We need to assess him," Pochettino added.

"We are going to have the last training session today and then we decide whether he can be in the starting XI or start on the bench."

Reuters