Manchester City have reached the last-16 for the eighth consecutive season as longtime rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid compete for qualification
Pep Guardiola said no team can take qualification for the Champions League knockout stages for granted after Manchester City secure a seeded place for the last 16.
City’s 0-0 draw at Porto means his side will surpass Group C with a match over after reaching the knockout draw for the eighth consecutive season, but with European giants Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Inter and last year’s semi-finalists RB Leipzig all. According to Guardiola, qualification is not as easy as people expect.
“This year it was especially difficult in the Champions League, because if you lose or draw you have to go to the last game and there is always risk with the COVID situation,” he said.
‘I know it would be a disaster if we couldn’t. Nowadays, [people think it is] so easy, but we know that in the other groups, some major incredible teams find it difficult to qualify.
“We know how important the groups are and how difficult it is to qualify, so this game is really difficult – if you sleep one or two games, everything gets complicated. Today is a day to be happy and now is the time to forget about the Champions League until February and focus on the Premier League. ”
City has one last group match against Marseille next Wednesday, which comes just three days before the Manchester Derby.
With nothing riding on the fixture, it gives Guardiola the option to rest players for the trip to Old Trafford, but with almost a full squad fully fit, he says he will pick a strong squad to join the Ligue 1 squad. beat, which their squad won. first game in 13 tries against Olympiacos on Tuesday.
“All players deserve to play,” he said. “We’re going to make a selection, it depends on whether they are tired, it depends on their behavior on the field, during training, in the locker room, in many situations. We shall see.
“It is not just to absolutely prepare for United and Old Trafford, because we are going to play against Marseille to win. This is how big teams create the mindset. It doesn’t matter what league you play, you have to try it and we did it really well throughout the game. “
City have kept clean four times in the last four Champions League and regretted not being able to win in Portugal with a goal from Gabriel Jesus that was ruled out by VAR and Raheem Sterling, Ruben Dias and Eric Garcia all came close.
Goals have been City’s biggest problem this season, but despite a new blank, the City boss was happy with how his side performed.
“We played exceptionally well,” added Guardiola. “Unfortunately we weren’t able to score, but we came here to finish first. We are happy, I think Porto (who was also qualified) is too.
“We played with tremendous personality, courage to go there and keep the ball. I know it is not easy. They played with eight players in the box, they were so strong, the fullbacks are so strong, but we were patient and we attacked and we created enough chances to win. This is the most important thing. “