Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola claimed Napoli are the best team he has ever faced in his career after his side’s tight 2-1 Champions League win against the Italian side at the Etihad Stadium.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has gone head to head with some of Europe’s top sides in his successful coaching career, yet he seemed to get a little carried away as he offered up this post match reaction on a night when Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus scored the crucial goals.
“Napoli’s an exceptional team. One of the best teams I have ever faced in my career, no doubts about that, maybe the best,” said an elated Guardiola. “This was was perfect. If we don’t play good we cannot beat that team, it’s impossible.
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“This is one of the proudest victories of my career, I am so, so proud of my players tonight. We knew it was going to be so, so tough.
“It was an amazing game. Outstanding. Both wanted to play against high pressing. If you are not aggressive without the ball you have no chance to survive.
“We made a good first half, 30-35 minutes. We scored the two goals. We could have made the third or fourth. After that we were a bit tired, we couldn’t finish our counter-attacks and we arrive late for our pressing.
“They have the big ability to make short passes inside and outside, that is why I’m so proud. They are one of the best teams I have ever faced. I think it was an extraordinary game from both sides.
“We will see if we can play better for longer when we go to Naples in a fortnight. What I liked best is we managed to control the ball, keep possession, but sometimes if you get distracted, they are incredibly quick. They can break with a lot of speed, as they showed in this game.
“Now the situation is that we go to the next game and try to win that. We are close but it is not already done. We need one more victory to qualify.”
Guardiola then used his post match press conference to make a political statement, as he dedicated the City win to those pushing for independence in Catalonia, in comments that will get a big reaction in Spain.
“This win is dedicated to them,” added Guardiola. “We have shown in Catalonia that citizenship is bigger than any ideas. We hope they will be released soon.”