Pep Guardiola (foto: Uradni Twitter profil kluba/zveze)
As Manchester City gears up to face Serbian powerhouse Red Star Belgrade in European competition, head coach Pep Guardiola is leaving no stone unturned in his preparations.
The Spaniard, who led City to European glory last season, spoke candidly about the challenges that lie ahead.
Red Star is a very aggressive side. They don't always defend man-to-man, but when they do, we have to be prepared. They're quick in transition and employ a 5-3-2 formation. We need to be tactically astute to counter their game," Guardiola told reporters.
The City boss also took a trip down memory lane, recalling Diego Maradona's iconic goal against Red Star and his own experience playing against the Serbian club during his Barcelona days. "I remember Maradona's goal; it was something special. And playing in Belgrade is always a unique experience; the atmosphere is electric," he added.
Guardiola's comments come at a time when City is set to play four matches in just 11 days. "Our injured players are recovering, and we have a deep squad. We need everyone fit for the challenges ahead," he said.
When asked about defending the Champions League title, Guardiola was optimistic but cautious. "Winning it once was incredible, but the great clubs have won it multiple times. We aim to join that elite group," he stated.
The upcoming match is also drawing attention due to Red Star's recent performances against top European clubs. "Their coach, Barak Bachar, has shown that he can set up his team to challenge the best. We saw what he did against the likes of Mbappe, Messi, and Neymar last season," Guardiola concluded.
As the clock ticks down to what promises to be an enthralling encounter, both teams are leaving nothing to chance. For Manchester City, it's not just about defending a title; it's about solidifying their place in European football history.