‘We’ve got to think, to know when things are dangerous’: Pep Guardiola blames Manchester City’s failure in the Champions League on mental lapses as they prepare to face Atalanta
- Manchester City haven’t gone past quarter-finals in Europe under Pep Guardiola
- They were defeated by Tottenham last season in very dramatic circumstances
- Guardiola believes their failings come down to shortcomings in their mentality
- City host Atalanta on Tuesday as they aim to take a step towards the last-16 stage
Pep Guardiola believes mentality is the main barrier to Manchester City securing Champions League glory.
City have not progressed beyond the quarter-final stage under his management and he puts that down to faltering in both boxes at crucial moments.
The English champions, who face Atalanta on Tuesday night, have already scored 38 goals in all competitions this season but Guardiola insisted they are not clinical enough.
Pep Guardiola has blamed Manchester City’s failure in the Champions League on mentality
Guardiola reacts in despair as City are knocked out of last year’s Champions League at home
City missed a raft of chances in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace. That sort of performance, to Guardiola, puts undue pressure on the back four and would make them vulnerable in Europe.
‘Little margins are the difference in the Champions League,’ he said.
‘I really believe these situations are about the mentality. We are working on it. We’ve got to think, to know when things are dangerous.
‘Teams don’t give you 20 chances in Europe. The players know this. We’ve spoken many times about it.
‘After creating chances you have to be solid, you cannot give away the goals we’ve given this season. We’ve made a number of mistakes that we shouldn’t make.
‘If you’re two-on-one, or around the six-yard box, you have to score a goal. If not it becomes more difficult in this competition against top teams.’
A victory over Atalanta on Tuesday would put City a win from the knockout stages.
Eyes are not yet on that, but Guardiola is aware his team need to take the initiative in big matches. The Catalan insisted they do not need to alter their style against the best – as long as his squad follow the basics.
It was a galling exit last season for Manchester City as they saw a late goal disallowed by VAR
Guardiola lead wild celebrations on the touchline before Raheem Sterling’s goal was ruled out
‘I don’t like to change something for one specific game,’ he added.
‘But sometimes you have injuries or problems. Two times in the Champions League we went out on goal difference and in both we conceded a lot of goals.
‘When we conceded three goals against Tottenham (last season), it was with Vincent Kompany and Aymeric Laporte, who were incredible last season. It’s not about specific players.’
Guardiola blamed himself for the shock 2-0 defeat by Wolves before the international break and used that display as a case study for how not to play.
‘We were nervous, our build-up was not in our mind. We didn’t do it in training, it was my mistake, we didn’t prepare well on how you make a build-up against a different setup.
‘In this competition, you play against incredible players and if you give them one moment, a metre, they will score.
Guardiola pictured during City’s quarter-final loss to Liverpool during the 2017-18 season