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Guardiola prepares for “incredibly tough” UEFA Champions League

by Salami Azeez

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has joked his players would “kill” him for a place in his 2029/2021 UEFA Champions League final match team.

The English Premier League (EPL) champions face domestic rivals Chelsea in Porto on May 29 with European club football’s biggest prize at stake.

Fittingly, the Spaniard has a wealth of talent from which to choose the right combination.

But Guardiola said: “They want it. They will kill me to play. So, I know it and it’s nice. They have to feel it and everybody can do it, that’s all.

“It will be an incredibly tough decision for me, but I have to analyse the opponent, the best way we have to do it, and we’re going to try.

“I know it doesn’t matter, the selection I am going to do, they are going to do everything to try to win it. I know it.

“But at the same time, I have to see the way I want to play, the way I want to defend with the mentality of the players, the guys who handle better the pressure than the other ones.

”Also, in that moment, try to be honest with myself, with the team and try to make the best choice possible, knowing that we have five substitutions or six substitutions in the final.

“Everyone has to be ready because in the final, many things can change and many things can happen.”

Manchester City celebrated their league title success in style with a thrilling 4-3 win at Newcastle United on Friday night in which Ferran Torres plundered a hat-trick.

It helped him to stake his claim for a place in the match day squad in Portugal.

They face Brighton on Tuesday evening before a final-day home clash with Everton in the EPL, and Guardiola has insisted he has not yet picked his team.

He said: “I have an idea. Of course I know exactly how they play, I have an idea how they attack, but I have two options, so we will see.

“Still I am not clear and these three games are going to tell me the players, the momentum and the chances they have to play.

“But I’m pretty sure we have to be prepared to compete in the best condition possible against Chelsea in the games we have to play before this final.

“We cannot arrive there and say: ‘Ah, today we will start to play’. It’s too late. We have to start to compete and try to win the final from now on, not on the day. If it happens, it will be too late.”

Asked how difficult it would be to tell players they would not be involved in the final, Guardiola was philosophical.

He said: “It’s tough in a normal game in the Premier League —- can you imagine in the final of the Champions League? Of course it will be.

“But it’s a business, this job, I’m sorry. So, the players follow the managers because you win. When you don’t win, they leave you alone.”

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