Hoffenheim vs Manchester City - Pep Guardiola feels City are playing catch up

Posted Tuesday, October 02, 2018 by PA

Hoffenheim vs Manchester City - Pep Guardiola feels City are playing catch up

Pep Guardiola is ready for the first of “five finals” as Manchester City look to get their Champions League campaign back on track.

City lost their opening game in the competition at home to Lyon and sit bottom of Group F.

And Guardiola admits the pressure is on his side to deliver as they prepare for Tuesday’s clash against Hoffenheim, who claimed a creditable draw at Shakhtar Donetsk in their group opener.

“In the Champions League we don’t have time to lose a lot of games and we lost the first one,” Guardiola said. “We have five finals and tomorrow is the first one.”

Winning the Champions League is a long-term ambition of the club but they fell to Liverpool at the quarter-final stage last season.

Captain Vincent Kompany expects the competition to prove just as difficult this term.

Kompany said: “I’d love to win a European trophy with City but it’s such a tough competition to win. Across Europe there are about eight teams with just as much of a claim.

“We’ve got to deal with the fact we lost to Lyon. We’ll worry about Hoffenheim first and if we get momentum anything is possible.”

Striker Sergio Aguero is expected to be fit for the game despite playing through the pain of a foot problem in recent games. Guardiola insists Sunday’s trip to Liverpool will not come into his thinking when it comes to selection.

Guardiola said: “He’s here because the doctors say he is able. He is much better but he still has pain. Tomorrow we are going to decide if he plays or Gabriel.”

Playmaker Kevin De Bruyne is not fit but has stepped up his recovery from a knee injury by returning to training. The Belgian was involved in a session with the squad before they flew to Germany without him on Monday afternoon.

Guardiola said: “It was the first one with the team. We’ll see when he’s ready to join the team in the games.”

Benjamin Mendy (foot) is still missing and usual deputy at left-back, Fabian Delph, also has a knock, meaning Oleksandr Zinchenko is again likely to feature.

Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann is looking forward to measuring himself against Guardiola.

Nagelsmann, 31, is rated as one of the best up-and-coming managers in the German game and has already agreed to take over at RB Leipzig next season after impressing in his two and a half years at Hoffenheim.

Appointed at the age of just 28 in 2016, Nagelsmann guided the club to fourth in the Bundesliga in 2017 and third last season, taking them into the Champions League for the first time.

Now he faces City’s much-decorated former Bayern Munich boss Guardiola for the first time in a Group F clash at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Nagelsmann told reporters: “I play against Pep Guardiola for the first time and, from his professional career, he is a good point of reference.

“I’m really looking forward to our first Champions League game at home. Until now I’ve been feeling fairly normal and we’ve been concentrating on training but, as of tonight, there’ll certainly be plenty of excitement.”

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