Pep Guardiola accepts Manchester City must adapt to the artificial surface they face in Switzerland this week – but claims “common sense” dictates grass is better.
The holders will play on unfamiliar terrain in their latest Champions League outing on Wednesday when they take on Young Boys on their synthetic pitch at the Wankdorf Stadium.
Guardiola insists there are no complaints on his part, and he has changed his team’s routine to ensure they are prepared.
PEP 💬 (On artificial pitch) UEFA allow to play here because it is in good condition… That’s why we travel in the morning, so the players feel how the ball runs right, left, backwards, forwards. That's why we try it and the players will know it immediately. pic.twitter.com/OHPdymt0Bl
— Manchester City (@ManCity) October 24, 2023
Normally City do not take up the option available to them of training at the stadium when they play away games in Europe, instead preferring to work in Manchester before travelling.
However, on this occasion City flew to Bern on Tuesday morning and had a run out on the pitch in the evening.
Yet the City manager could not hide the feeling that he would prefer to be playing on a natural surface.
Speaking at a press conference, the Spaniard said: “It is what it is. If UEFA allows games to be played here it’s because it’s in good conditions.
“That’s one of the reasons we never train away but this is an exception. This is why we travel in the morning for the players to feel how the ball runs, how to move left, right, backwards, forwards. That’s why.
“We’ll try it and the players will know it immediately.”
Asked if he was concerned about injuries, Guardiola said: “I don’t know – hopefully not, for both sides, but I don’t know.
“We are not used to it. Any team that plays here is not used to it. It suits the Swiss league and, in the Champions League, the teams that come here have to adapt.
“We will not be the first in this situation. We have to use it as a benefit but the grass is better.”
Asked why, Guardiola said: “Because 99.9 per cent of the teams who play in a high level play on grass, otherwise UEFA and FIFA would decide to play on artificial pitches. It’s common sense, I would say.”
City go into their third match in Group G looking to maintain their 100 per cent record after victories over Red Star Belgrade and RB Leipzig.
Victory in their back-to-back games against Young Boys, who travel to the Etihad Stadium next month, could see City qualify for the knockout stages with two matches to spare.
City have no fresh injury concerns, with long-term casualty Kevin De Bruyne their only notable absentee.
Guardiola also played down concerns about the form of Jack Grealish, who is taking time to get back to his best after a month out with a dead leg.
The City boss said: “I don’t have one doubt about Jack and his quality and what he has done for us since he arrived, especially last season. I’m calm and confident. He is an incredibly important player for us.”