Guardiola ‘incredibly excited’ by Real tie

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Last Updated: 20/07/20 11:09pm

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is already looking forward to his side's return to European action
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is already looking forward to his side’s return to European action

Pep Guardiola feels “incredibly excited and incredibly optimistic” as he switches focus to Manchester City’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid next month.

City will host the newly-crowned Spanish champions on August 7 in the delayed second leg of their last-16 tie, leading 2-1 from the first encounter in February.

After Saturday’s loss to Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals, City now only have two Premier League games, which can’t alter their position in second place, before the visit of the La Liga side.

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City have played some exhilarating football at times this season but the Arsenal result highlighted some frailties Guardiola is determined to learn from.

“Part of the good work Arsenal have done, I give them a lot of credit for – what they did, how good they defended,” Guardiola said.

Kevin De Bruyne's goal at the Bernabeu gave City a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid going into the second leg
Kevin De Bruyne’s goal at the Bernabeu gave City a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid going into the second leg

“We didn’t do it properly. We had enough chances to score goals and we didn’t do it. I just congratulate them, learn from this and prepare for Madrid. We move forward, it’s forgotten.

“Now we are incredibly excited and incredibly optimistic about the game against Madrid, for the players we have.

“We know if we play at a decent level, higher than we played against Arsenal, we’ll have our chance. If not, we’ll be out.”

Guardiola wants his side to use this week’s closing Premier League games against Watford and Norwich to rediscover their best.

“(Find) our game, come back who we are,” he said. “With and without the ball, we are good when we go full gas – when we are a team with no fear, when it doesn’t matter what happens and we play.

“That’s what we have to take from these two games. Watford and Norwich can beat us, but beat us being who we are.”

Guardiola said that he respects Arsenal 'on the pitch'
Guardiola said that he respects Arsenal ‘on the pitch’

Guardiola was impressed by Arsenal, who are now managed by his former assistant Mikel Arteta – although he made a distinction in his thoughts about the club on and off the field.

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was a noted critic of City and their past spending in relation to Financial Fair Play regulations.

“The opponents always deserve my respect and credit, and Arsenal, they have it,” Guardiola said.

“I have all the respect for what Arsenal are on the pitch – not much off the pitch, but on the pitch a lot. So I congratulate them and good luck against Chelsea in the final.”

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Source : Sky Sports