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Arsene Wenger has flatly dismissed the suggestion that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management ahead of a League Cup final on Sunday that could further cement his own place in British football history. Victory would make Wenger only the eighth manager to complete a clean sweep of major domestic English trophies but, even with Arsenal 27 points adrift of Guardiola’s City in the Premier League, he rejected the claim on Friday that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has changed football. Guardiola was also the manager of arguably the greatest club team in football history at Barcelona and has twice won the Champions League as well as hat-tricks of league titles in both Spain and Germany but, asked if the 48-year-old had changed football, Wenger replied: “No. Why?” When Wenger was then asked if Guardiola had set a new standard over the past decade with his teams and how they play, he chose instead to highlight the concentration of playing talent at the biggest and richest clubs. “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe,” said Wenger. “I think you have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a very small number of clubs and we, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy. But this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.” Pep Guardiola is looking to win his first trophy in English football Credit: Getty Images It was an instinctive but revealing response that suggested either supreme confidence or perhaps just a tinge of insecurity, even if it was later stressed that Wenger did not intend any criticism of Guardiola, who he also described as a “good manager” with whom he shared a “love for the game and a positive philosophy”. Indeed, Wenger also revealed that Guardiola is on the long list of celebrated players who almost joined Arsenal during his tenure. That was back in 2001 but Wenger ultimately concluded that he did not need further midfield reinforcement and the 30-year-old Guardiola instead moved from Barcelona to Brescia. “I talked to him a few times, and once he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal,” said Wenger. Did he like Guardiola as a player? “Yes - it was the quality of his decision making and distribution. He played a very quick passing game and that is always our DNA [but] he was over the top of his career already and we had top class players in his position.” Arsenal lost 2-1 to Ostersunds on Thursday Credit: Getty Images With Patrick Vieira then in Arsenal’s midfield, it was a reminder of rather different times although it was clear on Friday that Wenger feels that the wider perception of his most recent work is sometimes distorted. Having previously this season described City as a club with “petrol and ideas…that makes it more efficient”, he underlined on Friday just how difficult it is to win trophies. Wenger’s Arsenal were of course Wembley winners against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last April and then also won the final against Chelsea. A fourth trophy in five years on Sunday would ensure the continuation of a record that, for all the frailties, would mean that Arsenal have either finished in the top four or won something in all 22 seasons of Wenger's tenure. “Trophies are very difficult to win,” said Wenger. “Look at the big clubs. Liverpool is a big club. How many times have they won the FA Cup in their whole history? Seven.” Wenger did not elaborate, but was clearly acutely aware that his own all-time record FA Cup tally stands equal at seven. Wenger has won seven FA Cups but no League Cups Credit: Action Images Another landmark could be reached at Wembley. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, George Graham, Joe Mercer, Jose Mourinho, Don Revie, Bill Nicholson and Kenny Dalglish have lifted the league title, FA Cup and League Cup in their managerial careers. It was obvious on Friday that such records do mean a great deal personally to Wenger, even if he probably also know that the narrative that currently surrounds him – and the summer uncertainty over his future - is unlikely to change substantially regardless of Sunday's outcome. There is surely a certain double-standard in those who disparaged top four finishes and no silverware between 2006 and 2013 but remain so critical amid declining league performance whilst now winning trophies, even if Wenger’s own emphatic criteria always gave priority to the Premier League and Champions League. The bottom line, also, is that the leading players now regard those two competitions as the ultimate benchmark, above even international football outside of major tournaments. It is why Arsenal would almost certainly still trade Champions League qualification – either by finishing in the Premier League’s top four or winning the Europa League – to a victory on Sunday. That, though, should still not diminish what have been genuinely big performances by Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and even in this year’s League Cup semi-final win against Chelsea. Those matches do also suggest that they have a realistic chance on Sunday, even if Wenger knows that Arsenal are regarded as bigger outsiders than in last year’s Wembley meeting. “Manchester City is dominating the league in the heads of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs but we have to believe in our quality,” he said. “The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again. In a final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it as well to find the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play your game. “The advantage of playing many finals is that I know how big a day it is. Wembley is always special. The pressure is always immense. You have to be cool. That is the target.”
Arsene Wenger dismisses idea that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management
Arsene Wenger has flatly dismissed the suggestion that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management ahead of a League Cup final on Sunday that could further cement his own place in British football history. Victory would make Wenger only the eighth manager to complete a clean sweep of major domestic English trophies but, even with Arsenal 27 points adrift of Guardiola’s City in the Premier League, he rejected the claim on Friday that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has changed football. Guardiola was also the manager of arguably the greatest club team in football history at Barcelona and has twice won the Champions League as well as hat-tricks of league titles in both Spain and Germany but, asked if the 48-year-old had changed football, Wenger replied: “No. Why?” When Wenger was then asked if Guardiola had set a new standard over the past decade with his teams and how they play, he chose instead to highlight the concentration of playing talent at the biggest and richest clubs. “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe,” said Wenger. “I think you have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a very small number of clubs and we, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy. But this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.” Pep Guardiola is looking to win his first trophy in English football Credit: Getty Images It was an instinctive but revealing response that suggested either supreme confidence or perhaps just a tinge of insecurity, even if it was later stressed that Wenger did not intend any criticism of Guardiola, who he also described as a “good manager” with whom he shared a “love for the game and a positive philosophy”. Indeed, Wenger also revealed that Guardiola is on the long list of celebrated players who almost joined Arsenal during his tenure. That was back in 2001 but Wenger ultimately concluded that he did not need further midfield reinforcement and the 30-year-old Guardiola instead moved from Barcelona to Brescia. “I talked to him a few times, and once he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal,” said Wenger. Did he like Guardiola as a player? “Yes - it was the quality of his decision making and distribution. He played a very quick passing game and that is always our DNA [but] he was over the top of his career already and we had top class players in his position.” Arsenal lost 2-1 to Ostersunds on Thursday Credit: Getty Images With Patrick Vieira then in Arsenal’s midfield, it was a reminder of rather different times although it was clear on Friday that Wenger feels that the wider perception of his most recent work is sometimes distorted. Having previously this season described City as a club with “petrol and ideas…that makes it more efficient”, he underlined on Friday just how difficult it is to win trophies. Wenger’s Arsenal were of course Wembley winners against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last April and then also won the final against Chelsea. A fourth trophy in five years on Sunday would ensure the continuation of a record that, for all the frailties, would mean that Arsenal have either finished in the top four or won something in all 22 seasons of Wenger's tenure. “Trophies are very difficult to win,” said Wenger. “Look at the big clubs. Liverpool is a big club. How many times have they won the FA Cup in their whole history? Seven.” Wenger did not elaborate, but was clearly acutely aware that his own all-time record FA Cup tally stands equal at seven. Wenger has won seven FA Cups but no League Cups Credit: Action Images Another landmark could be reached at Wembley. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, George Graham, Joe Mercer, Jose Mourinho, Don Revie, Bill Nicholson and Kenny Dalglish have lifted the league title, FA Cup and League Cup in their managerial careers. It was obvious on Friday that such records do mean a great deal personally to Wenger, even if he probably also know that the narrative that currently surrounds him – and the summer uncertainty over his future - is unlikely to change substantially regardless of Sunday's outcome. There is surely a certain double-standard in those who disparaged top four finishes and no silverware between 2006 and 2013 but remain so critical amid declining league performance whilst now winning trophies, even if Wenger’s own emphatic criteria always gave priority to the Premier League and Champions League. The bottom line, also, is that the leading players now regard those two competitions as the ultimate benchmark, above even international football outside of major tournaments. It is why Arsenal would almost certainly still trade Champions League qualification – either by finishing in the Premier League’s top four or winning the Europa League – to a victory on Sunday. That, though, should still not diminish what have been genuinely big performances by Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and even in this year’s League Cup semi-final win against Chelsea. Those matches do also suggest that they have a realistic chance on Sunday, even if Wenger knows that Arsenal are regarded as bigger outsiders than in last year’s Wembley meeting. “Manchester City is dominating the league in the heads of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs but we have to believe in our quality,” he said. “The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again. In a final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it as well to find the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play your game. “The advantage of playing many finals is that I know how big a day it is. Wembley is always special. The pressure is always immense. You have to be cool. That is the target.”
Arsene Wenger has flatly dismissed the suggestion that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management ahead of a League Cup final on Sunday that could further cement his own place in British football history. Victory would make Wenger only the eighth manager to complete a clean sweep of major domestic English trophies but, even with Arsenal 27 points adrift of Guardiola’s City in the Premier League, he rejected the claim on Friday that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has changed football. Guardiola was also the manager of arguably the greatest club team in football history at Barcelona and has twice won the Champions League as well as hat-tricks of league titles in both Spain and Germany but, asked if the 48-year-old had changed football, Wenger replied: “No. Why?” When Wenger was then asked if Guardiola had set a new standard over the past decade with his teams and how they play, he chose instead to highlight the concentration of playing talent at the biggest and richest clubs. “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe,” said Wenger. “I think you have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a very small number of clubs and we, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy. But this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.” Pep Guardiola is looking to win his first trophy in English football Credit: Getty Images It was an instinctive but revealing response that suggested either supreme confidence or perhaps just a tinge of insecurity, even if it was later stressed that Wenger did not intend any criticism of Guardiola, who he also described as a “good manager” with whom he shared a “love for the game and a positive philosophy”. Indeed, Wenger also revealed that Guardiola is on the long list of celebrated players who almost joined Arsenal during his tenure. That was back in 2001 but Wenger ultimately concluded that he did not need further midfield reinforcement and the 30-year-old Guardiola instead moved from Barcelona to Brescia. “I talked to him a few times, and once he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal,” said Wenger. Did he like Guardiola as a player? “Yes - it was the quality of his decision making and distribution. He played a very quick passing game and that is always our DNA [but] he was over the top of his career already and we had top class players in his position.” Arsenal lost 2-1 to Ostersunds on Thursday Credit: Getty Images With Patrick Vieira then in Arsenal’s midfield, it was a reminder of rather different times although it was clear on Friday that Wenger feels that the wider perception of his most recent work is sometimes distorted. Having previously this season described City as a club with “petrol and ideas…that makes it more efficient”, he underlined on Friday just how difficult it is to win trophies. Wenger’s Arsenal were of course Wembley winners against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last April and then also won the final against Chelsea. A fourth trophy in five years on Sunday would ensure the continuation of a record that, for all the frailties, would mean that Arsenal have either finished in the top four or won something in all 22 seasons of Wenger's tenure. “Trophies are very difficult to win,” said Wenger. “Look at the big clubs. Liverpool is a big club. How many times have they won the FA Cup in their whole history? Seven.” Wenger did not elaborate, but was clearly acutely aware that his own all-time record FA Cup tally stands equal at seven. Wenger has won seven FA Cups but no League Cups Credit: Action Images Another landmark could be reached at Wembley. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, George Graham, Joe Mercer, Jose Mourinho, Don Revie, Bill Nicholson and Kenny Dalglish have lifted the league title, FA Cup and League Cup in their managerial careers. It was obvious on Friday that such records do mean a great deal personally to Wenger, even if he probably also know that the narrative that currently surrounds him – and the summer uncertainty over his future - is unlikely to change substantially regardless of Sunday's outcome. There is surely a certain double-standard in those who disparaged top four finishes and no silverware between 2006 and 2013 but remain so critical amid declining league performance whilst now winning trophies, even if Wenger’s own emphatic criteria always gave priority to the Premier League and Champions League. The bottom line, also, is that the leading players now regard those two competitions as the ultimate benchmark, above even international football outside of major tournaments. It is why Arsenal would almost certainly still trade Champions League qualification – either by finishing in the Premier League’s top four or winning the Europa League – to a victory on Sunday. That, though, should still not diminish what have been genuinely big performances by Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and even in this year’s League Cup semi-final win against Chelsea. Those matches do also suggest that they have a realistic chance on Sunday, even if Wenger knows that Arsenal are regarded as bigger outsiders than in last year’s Wembley meeting. “Manchester City is dominating the league in the heads of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs but we have to believe in our quality,” he said. “The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again. In a final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it as well to find the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play your game. “The advantage of playing many finals is that I know how big a day it is. Wembley is always special. The pressure is always immense. You have to be cool. That is the target.”
Arsene Wenger dismisses idea that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management
Arsene Wenger has flatly dismissed the suggestion that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management ahead of a League Cup final on Sunday that could further cement his own place in British football history. Victory would make Wenger only the eighth manager to complete a clean sweep of major domestic English trophies but, even with Arsenal 27 points adrift of Guardiola’s City in the Premier League, he rejected the claim on Friday that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has changed football. Guardiola was also the manager of arguably the greatest club team in football history at Barcelona and has twice won the Champions League as well as hat-tricks of league titles in both Spain and Germany but, asked if the 48-year-old had changed football, Wenger replied: “No. Why?” When Wenger was then asked if Guardiola had set a new standard over the past decade with his teams and how they play, he chose instead to highlight the concentration of playing talent at the biggest and richest clubs. “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe,” said Wenger. “I think you have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a very small number of clubs and we, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy. But this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.” Pep Guardiola is looking to win his first trophy in English football Credit: Getty Images It was an instinctive but revealing response that suggested either supreme confidence or perhaps just a tinge of insecurity, even if it was later stressed that Wenger did not intend any criticism of Guardiola, who he also described as a “good manager” with whom he shared a “love for the game and a positive philosophy”. Indeed, Wenger also revealed that Guardiola is on the long list of celebrated players who almost joined Arsenal during his tenure. That was back in 2001 but Wenger ultimately concluded that he did not need further midfield reinforcement and the 30-year-old Guardiola instead moved from Barcelona to Brescia. “I talked to him a few times, and once he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal,” said Wenger. Did he like Guardiola as a player? “Yes - it was the quality of his decision making and distribution. He played a very quick passing game and that is always our DNA [but] he was over the top of his career already and we had top class players in his position.” Arsenal lost 2-1 to Ostersunds on Thursday Credit: Getty Images With Patrick Vieira then in Arsenal’s midfield, it was a reminder of rather different times although it was clear on Friday that Wenger feels that the wider perception of his most recent work is sometimes distorted. Having previously this season described City as a club with “petrol and ideas…that makes it more efficient”, he underlined on Friday just how difficult it is to win trophies. Wenger’s Arsenal were of course Wembley winners against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last April and then also won the final against Chelsea. A fourth trophy in five years on Sunday would ensure the continuation of a record that, for all the frailties, would mean that Arsenal have either finished in the top four or won something in all 22 seasons of Wenger's tenure. “Trophies are very difficult to win,” said Wenger. “Look at the big clubs. Liverpool is a big club. How many times have they won the FA Cup in their whole history? Seven.” Wenger did not elaborate, but was clearly acutely aware that his own all-time record FA Cup tally stands equal at seven. Wenger has won seven FA Cups but no League Cups Credit: Action Images Another landmark could be reached at Wembley. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, George Graham, Joe Mercer, Jose Mourinho, Don Revie, Bill Nicholson and Kenny Dalglish have lifted the league title, FA Cup and League Cup in their managerial careers. It was obvious on Friday that such records do mean a great deal personally to Wenger, even if he probably also know that the narrative that currently surrounds him – and the summer uncertainty over his future - is unlikely to change substantially regardless of Sunday's outcome. There is surely a certain double-standard in those who disparaged top four finishes and no silverware between 2006 and 2013 but remain so critical amid declining league performance whilst now winning trophies, even if Wenger’s own emphatic criteria always gave priority to the Premier League and Champions League. The bottom line, also, is that the leading players now regard those two competitions as the ultimate benchmark, above even international football outside of major tournaments. It is why Arsenal would almost certainly still trade Champions League qualification – either by finishing in the Premier League’s top four or winning the Europa League – to a victory on Sunday. That, though, should still not diminish what have been genuinely big performances by Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and even in this year’s League Cup semi-final win against Chelsea. Those matches do also suggest that they have a realistic chance on Sunday, even if Wenger knows that Arsenal are regarded as bigger outsiders than in last year’s Wembley meeting. “Manchester City is dominating the league in the heads of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs but we have to believe in our quality,” he said. “The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again. In a final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it as well to find the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play your game. “The advantage of playing many finals is that I know how big a day it is. Wembley is always special. The pressure is always immense. You have to be cool. That is the target.”
Arsene Wenger has flatly dismissed the suggestion that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management ahead of a League Cup final on Sunday that could further cement his own place in British football history. Victory would make Wenger only the eighth manager to complete a clean sweep of major domestic English trophies but, even with Arsenal 27 points adrift of Guardiola’s City in the Premier League, he rejected the claim on Friday that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has changed football. Guardiola was also the manager of arguably the greatest club team in football history at Barcelona and has twice won the Champions League as well as hat-tricks of league titles in both Spain and Germany but, asked if the 48-year-old had changed football, Wenger replied: “No. Why?” When Wenger was then asked if Guardiola had set a new standard over the past decade with his teams and how they play, he chose instead to highlight the concentration of playing talent at the biggest and richest clubs. “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe,” said Wenger. “I think you have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a very small number of clubs and we, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy. But this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.” Pep Guardiola is looking to win his first trophy in English football Credit: Getty Images It was an instinctive but revealing response that suggested either supreme confidence or perhaps just a tinge of insecurity, even if it was later stressed that Wenger did not intend any criticism of Guardiola, who he also described as a “good manager” with whom he shared a “love for the game and a positive philosophy”. Indeed, Wenger also revealed that Guardiola is on the long list of celebrated players who almost joined Arsenal during his tenure. That was back in 2001 but Wenger ultimately concluded that he did not need further midfield reinforcement and the 30-year-old Guardiola instead moved from Barcelona to Brescia. “I talked to him a few times, and once he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal,” said Wenger. Did he like Guardiola as a player? “Yes - it was the quality of his decision making and distribution. He played a very quick passing game and that is always our DNA [but] he was over the top of his career already and we had top class players in his position.” Arsenal lost 2-1 to Ostersunds on Thursday Credit: Getty Images With Patrick Vieira then in Arsenal’s midfield, it was a reminder of rather different times although it was clear on Friday that Wenger feels that the wider perception of his most recent work is sometimes distorted. Having previously this season described City as a club with “petrol and ideas…that makes it more efficient”, he underlined on Friday just how difficult it is to win trophies. Wenger’s Arsenal were of course Wembley winners against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last April and then also won the final against Chelsea. A fourth trophy in five years on Sunday would ensure the continuation of a record that, for all the frailties, would mean that Arsenal have either finished in the top four or won something in all 22 seasons of Wenger's tenure. “Trophies are very difficult to win,” said Wenger. “Look at the big clubs. Liverpool is a big club. How many times have they won the FA Cup in their whole history? Seven.” Wenger did not elaborate, but was clearly acutely aware that his own all-time record FA Cup tally stands equal at seven. Wenger has won seven FA Cups but no League Cups Credit: Action Images Another landmark could be reached at Wembley. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, George Graham, Joe Mercer, Jose Mourinho, Don Revie, Bill Nicholson and Kenny Dalglish have lifted the league title, FA Cup and League Cup in their managerial careers. It was obvious on Friday that such records do mean a great deal personally to Wenger, even if he probably also know that the narrative that currently surrounds him – and the summer uncertainty over his future - is unlikely to change substantially regardless of Sunday's outcome. There is surely a certain double-standard in those who disparaged top four finishes and no silverware between 2006 and 2013 but remain so critical amid declining league performance whilst now winning trophies, even if Wenger’s own emphatic criteria always gave priority to the Premier League and Champions League. The bottom line, also, is that the leading players now regard those two competitions as the ultimate benchmark, above even international football outside of major tournaments. It is why Arsenal would almost certainly still trade Champions League qualification – either by finishing in the Premier League’s top four or winning the Europa League – to a victory on Sunday. That, though, should still not diminish what have been genuinely big performances by Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and even in this year’s League Cup semi-final win against Chelsea. Those matches do also suggest that they have a realistic chance on Sunday, even if Wenger knows that Arsenal are regarded as bigger outsiders than in last year’s Wembley meeting. “Manchester City is dominating the league in the heads of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs but we have to believe in our quality,” he said. “The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again. In a final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it as well to find the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play your game. “The advantage of playing many finals is that I know how big a day it is. Wembley is always special. The pressure is always immense. You have to be cool. That is the target.”
Arsene Wenger dismisses idea that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management
Arsene Wenger has flatly dismissed the suggestion that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management ahead of a League Cup final on Sunday that could further cement his own place in British football history. Victory would make Wenger only the eighth manager to complete a clean sweep of major domestic English trophies but, even with Arsenal 27 points adrift of Guardiola’s City in the Premier League, he rejected the claim on Friday that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has changed football. Guardiola was also the manager of arguably the greatest club team in football history at Barcelona and has twice won the Champions League as well as hat-tricks of league titles in both Spain and Germany but, asked if the 48-year-old had changed football, Wenger replied: “No. Why?” When Wenger was then asked if Guardiola had set a new standard over the past decade with his teams and how they play, he chose instead to highlight the concentration of playing talent at the biggest and richest clubs. “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe,” said Wenger. “I think you have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a very small number of clubs and we, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy. But this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.” Pep Guardiola is looking to win his first trophy in English football Credit: Getty Images It was an instinctive but revealing response that suggested either supreme confidence or perhaps just a tinge of insecurity, even if it was later stressed that Wenger did not intend any criticism of Guardiola, who he also described as a “good manager” with whom he shared a “love for the game and a positive philosophy”. Indeed, Wenger also revealed that Guardiola is on the long list of celebrated players who almost joined Arsenal during his tenure. That was back in 2001 but Wenger ultimately concluded that he did not need further midfield reinforcement and the 30-year-old Guardiola instead moved from Barcelona to Brescia. “I talked to him a few times, and once he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal,” said Wenger. Did he like Guardiola as a player? “Yes - it was the quality of his decision making and distribution. He played a very quick passing game and that is always our DNA [but] he was over the top of his career already and we had top class players in his position.” Arsenal lost 2-1 to Ostersunds on Thursday Credit: Getty Images With Patrick Vieira then in Arsenal’s midfield, it was a reminder of rather different times although it was clear on Friday that Wenger feels that the wider perception of his most recent work is sometimes distorted. Having previously this season described City as a club with “petrol and ideas…that makes it more efficient”, he underlined on Friday just how difficult it is to win trophies. Wenger’s Arsenal were of course Wembley winners against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last April and then also won the final against Chelsea. A fourth trophy in five years on Sunday would ensure the continuation of a record that, for all the frailties, would mean that Arsenal have either finished in the top four or won something in all 22 seasons of Wenger's tenure. “Trophies are very difficult to win,” said Wenger. “Look at the big clubs. Liverpool is a big club. How many times have they won the FA Cup in their whole history? Seven.” Wenger did not elaborate, but was clearly acutely aware that his own all-time record FA Cup tally stands equal at seven. Wenger has won seven FA Cups but no League Cups Credit: Action Images Another landmark could be reached at Wembley. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, George Graham, Joe Mercer, Jose Mourinho, Don Revie, Bill Nicholson and Kenny Dalglish have lifted the league title, FA Cup and League Cup in their managerial careers. It was obvious on Friday that such records do mean a great deal personally to Wenger, even if he probably also know that the narrative that currently surrounds him – and the summer uncertainty over his future - is unlikely to change substantially regardless of Sunday's outcome. There is surely a certain double-standard in those who disparaged top four finishes and no silverware between 2006 and 2013 but remain so critical amid declining league performance whilst now winning trophies, even if Wenger’s own emphatic criteria always gave priority to the Premier League and Champions League. The bottom line, also, is that the leading players now regard those two competitions as the ultimate benchmark, above even international football outside of major tournaments. It is why Arsenal would almost certainly still trade Champions League qualification – either by finishing in the Premier League’s top four or winning the Europa League – to a victory on Sunday. That, though, should still not diminish what have been genuinely big performances by Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and even in this year’s League Cup semi-final win against Chelsea. Those matches do also suggest that they have a realistic chance on Sunday, even if Wenger knows that Arsenal are regarded as bigger outsiders than in last year’s Wembley meeting. “Manchester City is dominating the league in the heads of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs but we have to believe in our quality,” he said. “The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again. In a final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it as well to find the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play your game. “The advantage of playing many finals is that I know how big a day it is. Wembley is always special. The pressure is always immense. You have to be cool. That is the target.”
Arsene Wenger has flatly dismissed the suggestion that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management ahead of a League Cup final on Sunday that could further cement his own place in British football history. Victory would make Wenger only the eighth manager to complete a clean sweep of major domestic English trophies but, even with Arsenal 27 points adrift of Guardiola’s City in the Premier League, he rejected the claim on Friday that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has changed football. Guardiola was also the manager of arguably the greatest club team in football history at Barcelona and has twice won the Champions League as well as hat-tricks of league titles in both Spain and Germany but, asked if the 48-year-old had changed football, Wenger replied: “No. Why?” When Wenger was then asked if Guardiola had set a new standard over the past decade with his teams and how they play, he chose instead to highlight the concentration of playing talent at the biggest and richest clubs. “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe,” said Wenger. “I think you have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a very small number of clubs and we, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy. But this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.” Pep Guardiola is looking to win his first trophy in English football Credit: Getty Images It was an instinctive but revealing response that suggested either supreme confidence or perhaps just a tinge of insecurity, even if it was later stressed that Wenger did not intend any criticism of Guardiola, who he also described as a “good manager” with whom he shared a “love for the game and a positive philosophy”. Indeed, Wenger also revealed that Guardiola is on the long list of celebrated players who almost joined Arsenal during his tenure. That was back in 2001 but Wenger ultimately concluded that he did not need further midfield reinforcement and the 30-year-old Guardiola instead moved from Barcelona to Brescia. “I talked to him a few times, and once he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal,” said Wenger. Did he like Guardiola as a player? “Yes - it was the quality of his decision making and distribution. He played a very quick passing game and that is always our DNA [but] he was over the top of his career already and we had top class players in his position.” Arsenal lost 2-1 to Ostersunds on Thursday Credit: Getty Images With Patrick Vieira then in Arsenal’s midfield, it was a reminder of rather different times although it was clear on Friday that Wenger feels that the wider perception of his most recent work is sometimes distorted. Having previously this season described City as a club with “petrol and ideas…that makes it more efficient”, he underlined on Friday just how difficult it is to win trophies. Wenger’s Arsenal were of course Wembley winners against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last April and then also won the final against Chelsea. A fourth trophy in five years on Sunday would ensure the continuation of a record that, for all the frailties, would mean that Arsenal have either finished in the top four or won something in all 22 seasons of Wenger's tenure. “Trophies are very difficult to win,” said Wenger. “Look at the big clubs. Liverpool is a big club. How many times have they won the FA Cup in their whole history? Seven.” Wenger did not elaborate, but was clearly acutely aware that his own all-time record FA Cup tally stands equal at seven. Wenger has won seven FA Cups but no League Cups Credit: Action Images Another landmark could be reached at Wembley. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, George Graham, Joe Mercer, Jose Mourinho, Don Revie, Bill Nicholson and Kenny Dalglish have lifted the league title, FA Cup and League Cup in their managerial careers. It was obvious on Friday that such records do mean a great deal personally to Wenger, even if he probably also know that the narrative that currently surrounds him – and the summer uncertainty over his future - is unlikely to change substantially regardless of Sunday's outcome. There is surely a certain double-standard in those who disparaged top four finishes and no silverware between 2006 and 2013 but remain so critical amid declining league performance whilst now winning trophies, even if Wenger’s own emphatic criteria always gave priority to the Premier League and Champions League. The bottom line, also, is that the leading players now regard those two competitions as the ultimate benchmark, above even international football outside of major tournaments. It is why Arsenal would almost certainly still trade Champions League qualification – either by finishing in the Premier League’s top four or winning the Europa League – to a victory on Sunday. That, though, should still not diminish what have been genuinely big performances by Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and even in this year’s League Cup semi-final win against Chelsea. Those matches do also suggest that they have a realistic chance on Sunday, even if Wenger knows that Arsenal are regarded as bigger outsiders than in last year’s Wembley meeting. “Manchester City is dominating the league in the heads of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs but we have to believe in our quality,” he said. “The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again. In a final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it as well to find the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play your game. “The advantage of playing many finals is that I know how big a day it is. Wembley is always special. The pressure is always immense. You have to be cool. That is the target.”
Arsene Wenger dismisses idea that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management
Arsene Wenger has flatly dismissed the suggestion that Pep Guardiola has set new standards in management ahead of a League Cup final on Sunday that could further cement his own place in British football history. Victory would make Wenger only the eighth manager to complete a clean sweep of major domestic English trophies but, even with Arsenal 27 points adrift of Guardiola’s City in the Premier League, he rejected the claim on Friday that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has changed football. Guardiola was also the manager of arguably the greatest club team in football history at Barcelona and has twice won the Champions League as well as hat-tricks of league titles in both Spain and Germany but, asked if the 48-year-old had changed football, Wenger replied: “No. Why?” When Wenger was then asked if Guardiola had set a new standard over the past decade with his teams and how they play, he chose instead to highlight the concentration of playing talent at the biggest and richest clubs. “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe,” said Wenger. “I think you have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a very small number of clubs and we, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy. But this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.” Pep Guardiola is looking to win his first trophy in English football Credit: Getty Images It was an instinctive but revealing response that suggested either supreme confidence or perhaps just a tinge of insecurity, even if it was later stressed that Wenger did not intend any criticism of Guardiola, who he also described as a “good manager” with whom he shared a “love for the game and a positive philosophy”. Indeed, Wenger also revealed that Guardiola is on the long list of celebrated players who almost joined Arsenal during his tenure. That was back in 2001 but Wenger ultimately concluded that he did not need further midfield reinforcement and the 30-year-old Guardiola instead moved from Barcelona to Brescia. “I talked to him a few times, and once he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal,” said Wenger. Did he like Guardiola as a player? “Yes - it was the quality of his decision making and distribution. He played a very quick passing game and that is always our DNA [but] he was over the top of his career already and we had top class players in his position.” Arsenal lost 2-1 to Ostersunds on Thursday Credit: Getty Images With Patrick Vieira then in Arsenal’s midfield, it was a reminder of rather different times although it was clear on Friday that Wenger feels that the wider perception of his most recent work is sometimes distorted. Having previously this season described City as a club with “petrol and ideas…that makes it more efficient”, he underlined on Friday just how difficult it is to win trophies. Wenger’s Arsenal were of course Wembley winners against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last April and then also won the final against Chelsea. A fourth trophy in five years on Sunday would ensure the continuation of a record that, for all the frailties, would mean that Arsenal have either finished in the top four or won something in all 22 seasons of Wenger's tenure. “Trophies are very difficult to win,” said Wenger. “Look at the big clubs. Liverpool is a big club. How many times have they won the FA Cup in their whole history? Seven.” Wenger did not elaborate, but was clearly acutely aware that his own all-time record FA Cup tally stands equal at seven. Wenger has won seven FA Cups but no League Cups Credit: Action Images Another landmark could be reached at Wembley. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, George Graham, Joe Mercer, Jose Mourinho, Don Revie, Bill Nicholson and Kenny Dalglish have lifted the league title, FA Cup and League Cup in their managerial careers. It was obvious on Friday that such records do mean a great deal personally to Wenger, even if he probably also know that the narrative that currently surrounds him – and the summer uncertainty over his future - is unlikely to change substantially regardless of Sunday's outcome. There is surely a certain double-standard in those who disparaged top four finishes and no silverware between 2006 and 2013 but remain so critical amid declining league performance whilst now winning trophies, even if Wenger’s own emphatic criteria always gave priority to the Premier League and Champions League. The bottom line, also, is that the leading players now regard those two competitions as the ultimate benchmark, above even international football outside of major tournaments. It is why Arsenal would almost certainly still trade Champions League qualification – either by finishing in the Premier League’s top four or winning the Europa League – to a victory on Sunday. That, though, should still not diminish what have been genuinely big performances by Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and even in this year’s League Cup semi-final win against Chelsea. Those matches do also suggest that they have a realistic chance on Sunday, even if Wenger knows that Arsenal are regarded as bigger outsiders than in last year’s Wembley meeting. “Manchester City is dominating the league in the heads of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs but we have to believe in our quality,” he said. “The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again. In a final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it as well to find the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play your game. “The advantage of playing many finals is that I know how big a day it is. Wembley is always special. The pressure is always immense. You have to be cool. That is the target.”
The message from Pep Guardiola was unequivocal: I will be judged on trophies. The Manchester City manager had suggested at the end of his first season at the club that the style of his team was more important to him than the substance of silverware but, ahead of Sunday's Carabao Cup final against Arsenal, he was emphatic. It is the winning that matters. “We have to lift titles to give more value to what we have done,” Guardiola said. “When we started [the season], we said the same – that we would be judged on how many titles we win, in the big clubs, in the five or six contenders, it’s always the same: ‘How many titles do you win?’ “We don’t expect to win titles to be happier but, of course, we’ll be judged on this and for the club it is so important because it is a club that, every year, needs to grow and win titles and, hopefully, after the day after tomorrow, we’ll have the first one.” The first one for any manager at a club matters more than most – even if it is the League Cup, the least important of the important prizes. That first trophy was something Jose Mourinho stressed to his players when he first became Chelsea manager in 2005 and made such a push for the competition and won it. Mourinho did it again last season with Manchester United. It breeds that winning mentality to bring greater trophies and, although Guardiola knows City have already all but won a far more valuable title – the Premier League, where they hold a 16-point lead – this is a huge Wembley occasion, against a big opponent and, intriguingly, comes less than a week after his side were knocked out of the FA Cup by Wigan Athletic, which ended hopes of a quadruple. City were dumped out of the FA Cup by Will Grigg and Wigan Athletic earlier this week Credit: AFP That FA Cup exit hurt Guardiola, who suggested he would rather have lost league matches than the tie, and he knows that should City not triumph at Wembley, it would raise serious questions over their lasting power in a season when they have played extraordinary football. “In the finals, of course, it’s winning,” Guardiola said, urging his players to have no “regrets”. “But after that it is how you win. Finals are [about penalty] boxes. It’s how clinical you are in front [of goal], how tough. Finals are different – it’s not what you have done in the past.” The Spaniard has a hugely impressive record in cup finals, having won nine of the 10 he has contested – excluding super cups – with the only defeat being the 2011 Copa del Rey, when Barcelona were defeated by Mourinho’s Real Madrid in extra time. Guardiola also lost the German Super Cup to Borussia Dortmund, soon after taking over at Bayern Munich in 2013. The effect such defeats have on him, even on a lesser occasion, was chronicled by author Marti Perarnau in his book, Pep Confidential. “For the club, it is nothing more than an insignificant slip-up – the Super Cup is considered unimportant in Germany,” Perarnau wrote. “However, the coach feels deeply wounded.” In the bigger picture, the League Cup still represents the first leg of a treble, along with the Premier League and with City pretty much guaranteed a place in the last eight of the Champions League. A treble would only be the third of its kind ever achieved in English football: after Manchester United’s Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup success in 1998-99, and Liverpool’s league, European Cup and League Cup triumph in 1983-84. Guardiola, though, is keen to play down any talk of that and sensed the potential for headlines that might come back to haunt. The 47-year-old was even more wary of engaging with claims that if City won, it could herald an era of dominance. Despite that, it would fuel the sense that he is tightening his grip. “No,” Guardiola said. “The same thing was asked to me in the beginning of the season. Did we expect to fight until three days ago in four competitions? I said no. Not even in Barcelona when we won the first title in the cup [Copa del Rey in 2009] did I expect to win 14 titles in four years. I didn’t expect that. I’m more pragmatic than that. Don’t dream too much. “In football, it’s a big mistake to think what might happen in the next three years. It’s a big mistake for our heads, our targets, our focus – it makes no sense. When people asked in the beginning, about winning four titles, I said ‘of course we are going to try, but the big teams have not been able to do that – the big Liverpools, the big Uniteds, the big Arsenals or Chelsea. So, why should I think we can do it?’ We have a final and we try to do what we have done, who we are, and after we will see. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good “Then, after in the Premier League, we have six games to be champions in the most prestigious tournament in this country and will try to achieve it. Then we’ll see next year. Then at the end of our time together [his current three-year contract expires then] we will analyse and see what we have done.” A late fitness call will be made on Raheem Sterling. “He had a problem with muscle, he had a problem against Basel [in the Champions League]. I don’t know if he’s ready for Sunday,” Guardiola said while suggesting that Leroy Sane was still to regain full fitness after his injury lay-off and that Gabriel Jesus was unlikely to be risked. Guardiola has to decide whether to go with Oleksandr Zinchenko at left-back, with Fabian Delph beginning the first game of his three-match ban after his Wigan red card. Managers with a clean sweep of domestic trophies and those who miss out The manager did confirm that Claudio Bravo, who has played in all the previous rounds, would continue in goal. “He [Bravo] deserves to play in the final and he’s going to play,” Guardiola said. “The locker room is sometimes more important in the finals – without him we would not be here, he’s going to play.”
Pep Guardiola insists he puts substance of trophies over style of his Man City team
The message from Pep Guardiola was unequivocal: I will be judged on trophies. The Manchester City manager had suggested at the end of his first season at the club that the style of his team was more important to him than the substance of silverware but, ahead of Sunday's Carabao Cup final against Arsenal, he was emphatic. It is the winning that matters. “We have to lift titles to give more value to what we have done,” Guardiola said. “When we started [the season], we said the same – that we would be judged on how many titles we win, in the big clubs, in the five or six contenders, it’s always the same: ‘How many titles do you win?’ “We don’t expect to win titles to be happier but, of course, we’ll be judged on this and for the club it is so important because it is a club that, every year, needs to grow and win titles and, hopefully, after the day after tomorrow, we’ll have the first one.” The first one for any manager at a club matters more than most – even if it is the League Cup, the least important of the important prizes. That first trophy was something Jose Mourinho stressed to his players when he first became Chelsea manager in 2005 and made such a push for the competition and won it. Mourinho did it again last season with Manchester United. It breeds that winning mentality to bring greater trophies and, although Guardiola knows City have already all but won a far more valuable title – the Premier League, where they hold a 16-point lead – this is a huge Wembley occasion, against a big opponent and, intriguingly, comes less than a week after his side were knocked out of the FA Cup by Wigan Athletic, which ended hopes of a quadruple. City were dumped out of the FA Cup by Will Grigg and Wigan Athletic earlier this week Credit: AFP That FA Cup exit hurt Guardiola, who suggested he would rather have lost league matches than the tie, and he knows that should City not triumph at Wembley, it would raise serious questions over their lasting power in a season when they have played extraordinary football. “In the finals, of course, it’s winning,” Guardiola said, urging his players to have no “regrets”. “But after that it is how you win. Finals are [about penalty] boxes. It’s how clinical you are in front [of goal], how tough. Finals are different – it’s not what you have done in the past.” The Spaniard has a hugely impressive record in cup finals, having won nine of the 10 he has contested – excluding super cups – with the only defeat being the 2011 Copa del Rey, when Barcelona were defeated by Mourinho’s Real Madrid in extra time. Guardiola also lost the German Super Cup to Borussia Dortmund, soon after taking over at Bayern Munich in 2013. The effect such defeats have on him, even on a lesser occasion, was chronicled by author Marti Perarnau in his book, Pep Confidential. “For the club, it is nothing more than an insignificant slip-up – the Super Cup is considered unimportant in Germany,” Perarnau wrote. “However, the coach feels deeply wounded.” In the bigger picture, the League Cup still represents the first leg of a treble, along with the Premier League and with City pretty much guaranteed a place in the last eight of the Champions League. A treble would only be the third of its kind ever achieved in English football: after Manchester United’s Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup success in 1998-99, and Liverpool’s league, European Cup and League Cup triumph in 1983-84. Guardiola, though, is keen to play down any talk of that and sensed the potential for headlines that might come back to haunt. The 47-year-old was even more wary of engaging with claims that if City won, it could herald an era of dominance. Despite that, it would fuel the sense that he is tightening his grip. “No,” Guardiola said. “The same thing was asked to me in the beginning of the season. Did we expect to fight until three days ago in four competitions? I said no. Not even in Barcelona when we won the first title in the cup [Copa del Rey in 2009] did I expect to win 14 titles in four years. I didn’t expect that. I’m more pragmatic than that. Don’t dream too much. “In football, it’s a big mistake to think what might happen in the next three years. It’s a big mistake for our heads, our targets, our focus – it makes no sense. When people asked in the beginning, about winning four titles, I said ‘of course we are going to try, but the big teams have not been able to do that – the big Liverpools, the big Uniteds, the big Arsenals or Chelsea. So, why should I think we can do it?’ We have a final and we try to do what we have done, who we are, and after we will see. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good “Then, after in the Premier League, we have six games to be champions in the most prestigious tournament in this country and will try to achieve it. Then we’ll see next year. Then at the end of our time together [his current three-year contract expires then] we will analyse and see what we have done.” A late fitness call will be made on Raheem Sterling. “He had a problem with muscle, he had a problem against Basel [in the Champions League]. I don’t know if he’s ready for Sunday,” Guardiola said while suggesting that Leroy Sane was still to regain full fitness after his injury lay-off and that Gabriel Jesus was unlikely to be risked. Guardiola has to decide whether to go with Oleksandr Zinchenko at left-back, with Fabian Delph beginning the first game of his three-match ban after his Wigan red card. Managers with a clean sweep of domestic trophies and those who miss out The manager did confirm that Claudio Bravo, who has played in all the previous rounds, would continue in goal. “He [Bravo] deserves to play in the final and he’s going to play,” Guardiola said. “The locker room is sometimes more important in the finals – without him we would not be here, he’s going to play.”
The message from Pep Guardiola was unequivocal: I will be judged on trophies. The Manchester City manager had suggested at the end of his first season at the club that the style of his team was more important to him than the substance of silverware but, ahead of Sunday's Carabao Cup final against Arsenal, he was emphatic. It is the winning that matters. “We have to lift titles to give more value to what we have done,” Guardiola said. “When we started [the season], we said the same – that we would be judged on how many titles we win, in the big clubs, in the five or six contenders, it’s always the same: ‘How many titles do you win?’ “We don’t expect to win titles to be happier but, of course, we’ll be judged on this and for the club it is so important because it is a club that, every year, needs to grow and win titles and, hopefully, after the day after tomorrow, we’ll have the first one.” The first one for any manager at a club matters more than most – even if it is the League Cup, the least important of the important prizes. That first trophy was something Jose Mourinho stressed to his players when he first became Chelsea manager in 2005 and made such a push for the competition and won it. Mourinho did it again last season with Manchester United. It breeds that winning mentality to bring greater trophies and, although Guardiola knows City have already all but won a far more valuable title – the Premier League, where they hold a 16-point lead – this is a huge Wembley occasion, against a big opponent and, intriguingly, comes less than a week after his side were knocked out of the FA Cup by Wigan Athletic, which ended hopes of a quadruple. City were dumped out of the FA Cup by Will Grigg and Wigan Athletic earlier this week Credit: AFP That FA Cup exit hurt Guardiola, who suggested he would rather have lost league matches than the tie, and he knows that should City not triumph at Wembley, it would raise serious questions over their lasting power in a season when they have played extraordinary football. “In the finals, of course, it’s winning,” Guardiola said, urging his players to have no “regrets”. “But after that it is how you win. Finals are [about penalty] boxes. It’s how clinical you are in front [of goal], how tough. Finals are different – it’s not what you have done in the past.” The Spaniard has a hugely impressive record in cup finals, having won nine of the 10 he has contested – excluding super cups – with the only defeat being the 2011 Copa del Rey, when Barcelona were defeated by Mourinho’s Real Madrid in extra time. Guardiola also lost the German Super Cup to Borussia Dortmund, soon after taking over at Bayern Munich in 2013. The effect such defeats have on him, even on a lesser occasion, was chronicled by author Marti Perarnau in his book, Pep Confidential. “For the club, it is nothing more than an insignificant slip-up – the Super Cup is considered unimportant in Germany,” Perarnau wrote. “However, the coach feels deeply wounded.” In the bigger picture, the League Cup still represents the first leg of a treble, along with the Premier League and with City pretty much guaranteed a place in the last eight of the Champions League. A treble would only be the third of its kind ever achieved in English football: after Manchester United’s Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup success in 1998-99, and Liverpool’s league, European Cup and League Cup triumph in 1983-84. Guardiola, though, is keen to play down any talk of that and sensed the potential for headlines that might come back to haunt. The 47-year-old was even more wary of engaging with claims that if City won, it could herald an era of dominance. Despite that, it would fuel the sense that he is tightening his grip. “No,” Guardiola said. “The same thing was asked to me in the beginning of the season. Did we expect to fight until three days ago in four competitions? I said no. Not even in Barcelona when we won the first title in the cup [Copa del Rey in 2009] did I expect to win 14 titles in four years. I didn’t expect that. I’m more pragmatic than that. Don’t dream too much. “In football, it’s a big mistake to think what might happen in the next three years. It’s a big mistake for our heads, our targets, our focus – it makes no sense. When people asked in the beginning, about winning four titles, I said ‘of course we are going to try, but the big teams have not been able to do that – the big Liverpools, the big Uniteds, the big Arsenals or Chelsea. So, why should I think we can do it?’ We have a final and we try to do what we have done, who we are, and after we will see. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good “Then, after in the Premier League, we have six games to be champions in the most prestigious tournament in this country and will try to achieve it. Then we’ll see next year. Then at the end of our time together [his current three-year contract expires then] we will analyse and see what we have done.” A late fitness call will be made on Raheem Sterling. “He had a problem with muscle, he had a problem against Basel [in the Champions League]. I don’t know if he’s ready for Sunday,” Guardiola said while suggesting that Leroy Sane was still to regain full fitness after his injury lay-off and that Gabriel Jesus was unlikely to be risked. Guardiola has to decide whether to go with Oleksandr Zinchenko at left-back, with Fabian Delph beginning the first game of his three-match ban after his Wigan red card. Managers with a clean sweep of domestic trophies and those who miss out The manager did confirm that Claudio Bravo, who has played in all the previous rounds, would continue in goal. “He [Bravo] deserves to play in the final and he’s going to play,” Guardiola said. “The locker room is sometimes more important in the finals – without him we would not be here, he’s going to play.”
Pep Guardiola insists he puts substance of trophies over style of his Man City team
The message from Pep Guardiola was unequivocal: I will be judged on trophies. The Manchester City manager had suggested at the end of his first season at the club that the style of his team was more important to him than the substance of silverware but, ahead of Sunday's Carabao Cup final against Arsenal, he was emphatic. It is the winning that matters. “We have to lift titles to give more value to what we have done,” Guardiola said. “When we started [the season], we said the same – that we would be judged on how many titles we win, in the big clubs, in the five or six contenders, it’s always the same: ‘How many titles do you win?’ “We don’t expect to win titles to be happier but, of course, we’ll be judged on this and for the club it is so important because it is a club that, every year, needs to grow and win titles and, hopefully, after the day after tomorrow, we’ll have the first one.” The first one for any manager at a club matters more than most – even if it is the League Cup, the least important of the important prizes. That first trophy was something Jose Mourinho stressed to his players when he first became Chelsea manager in 2005 and made such a push for the competition and won it. Mourinho did it again last season with Manchester United. It breeds that winning mentality to bring greater trophies and, although Guardiola knows City have already all but won a far more valuable title – the Premier League, where they hold a 16-point lead – this is a huge Wembley occasion, against a big opponent and, intriguingly, comes less than a week after his side were knocked out of the FA Cup by Wigan Athletic, which ended hopes of a quadruple. City were dumped out of the FA Cup by Will Grigg and Wigan Athletic earlier this week Credit: AFP That FA Cup exit hurt Guardiola, who suggested he would rather have lost league matches than the tie, and he knows that should City not triumph at Wembley, it would raise serious questions over their lasting power in a season when they have played extraordinary football. “In the finals, of course, it’s winning,” Guardiola said, urging his players to have no “regrets”. “But after that it is how you win. Finals are [about penalty] boxes. It’s how clinical you are in front [of goal], how tough. Finals are different – it’s not what you have done in the past.” The Spaniard has a hugely impressive record in cup finals, having won nine of the 10 he has contested – excluding super cups – with the only defeat being the 2011 Copa del Rey, when Barcelona were defeated by Mourinho’s Real Madrid in extra time. Guardiola also lost the German Super Cup to Borussia Dortmund, soon after taking over at Bayern Munich in 2013. The effect such defeats have on him, even on a lesser occasion, was chronicled by author Marti Perarnau in his book, Pep Confidential. “For the club, it is nothing more than an insignificant slip-up – the Super Cup is considered unimportant in Germany,” Perarnau wrote. “However, the coach feels deeply wounded.” In the bigger picture, the League Cup still represents the first leg of a treble, along with the Premier League and with City pretty much guaranteed a place in the last eight of the Champions League. A treble would only be the third of its kind ever achieved in English football: after Manchester United’s Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup success in 1998-99, and Liverpool’s league, European Cup and League Cup triumph in 1983-84. Guardiola, though, is keen to play down any talk of that and sensed the potential for headlines that might come back to haunt. The 47-year-old was even more wary of engaging with claims that if City won, it could herald an era of dominance. Despite that, it would fuel the sense that he is tightening his grip. “No,” Guardiola said. “The same thing was asked to me in the beginning of the season. Did we expect to fight until three days ago in four competitions? I said no. Not even in Barcelona when we won the first title in the cup [Copa del Rey in 2009] did I expect to win 14 titles in four years. I didn’t expect that. I’m more pragmatic than that. Don’t dream too much. “In football, it’s a big mistake to think what might happen in the next three years. It’s a big mistake for our heads, our targets, our focus – it makes no sense. When people asked in the beginning, about winning four titles, I said ‘of course we are going to try, but the big teams have not been able to do that – the big Liverpools, the big Uniteds, the big Arsenals or Chelsea. So, why should I think we can do it?’ We have a final and we try to do what we have done, who we are, and after we will see. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good “Then, after in the Premier League, we have six games to be champions in the most prestigious tournament in this country and will try to achieve it. Then we’ll see next year. Then at the end of our time together [his current three-year contract expires then] we will analyse and see what we have done.” A late fitness call will be made on Raheem Sterling. “He had a problem with muscle, he had a problem against Basel [in the Champions League]. I don’t know if he’s ready for Sunday,” Guardiola said while suggesting that Leroy Sane was still to regain full fitness after his injury lay-off and that Gabriel Jesus was unlikely to be risked. Guardiola has to decide whether to go with Oleksandr Zinchenko at left-back, with Fabian Delph beginning the first game of his three-match ban after his Wigan red card. Managers with a clean sweep of domestic trophies and those who miss out The manager did confirm that Claudio Bravo, who has played in all the previous rounds, would continue in goal. “He [Bravo] deserves to play in the final and he’s going to play,” Guardiola said. “The locker room is sometimes more important in the finals – without him we would not be here, he’s going to play.”
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has rarely appeared without the symbol attached to his garment in recent months, but what does it mean?
Why does Pep Guardiola wear a yellow ribbon? The meaning behind Man City boss' gesture
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has rarely appeared without the symbol attached to his garment in recent months, but what does it mean?
Arjen Robben was unhappy about not starting Bayern Munich's recent win over Besiktas, but coach Jupp Heynckes is at ease over the situation.
Heynckes plays down Robben's frustration
Arjen Robben was unhappy about not starting Bayern Munich's recent win over Besiktas, but coach Jupp Heynckes is at ease over the situation.
Bayern Munich's head coach Jupp Heynckes oversees a training session in Munich, southern Germany, on February 19, 2018 (AFP Photo/THOMAS KIENZLE)
Bayern Munich's head coach Jupp Heynckes oversees a training session in Munich, southern Germany, on February 19, 2018
Bayern Munich's head coach Jupp Heynckes oversees a training session in Munich, southern Germany, on February 19, 2018 (AFP Photo/THOMAS KIENZLE)
Bayern Munich's head coach Jupp Heynckes oversees a training session in Munich, southern Germany, on February 19, 2018
Bayern Munich's head coach Jupp Heynckes oversees a training session in Munich, southern Germany, on February 19, 2018
Bayern Munich's head coach Jupp Heynckes oversees a training session in Munich, southern Germany, on February 19, 2018
Bayern's Robert Lewandowski is congratulated by his teammate Thomas Mueller, left, after scoring his side's fifth goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Bayern Munich and Besiktas Istanbul in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)
Bayern's Robert Lewandowski is congratulated by his teammate Thomas Mueller, left, after scoring his side's fifth goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Bayern Munich and Besiktas Istanbul in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)
Bayern's Robert Lewandowski is congratulated by his teammate Thomas Mueller, left, after scoring his side's fifth goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Bayern Munich and Besiktas Istanbul in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)
Pini Zahavi, reportedly involved in Neymar's world-record move to PSG, has been appointed as the man to look after the Bayern Munich striker's career
Lewandowski employs new agent amid Real Madrid rumours
Pini Zahavi, reportedly involved in Neymar's world-record move to PSG, has been appointed as the man to look after the Bayern Munich striker's career
FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017 file photo, referee Harm Osmers looks at a video screen to decide whether to give a penalty against Bayern Munich during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hertha BSC Berlin and FC Bayern Munich in Berlin, Germany. German soccer fans are increasingly unhappy at how the game is developing in their country amid Monday night games, video assistance, questionable sponsorship arrangements and increasing pressure on the rule restricting investors. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)
Fear and anger from fans about changes in the Bundesliga
FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017 file photo, referee Harm Osmers looks at a video screen to decide whether to give a penalty against Bayern Munich during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hertha BSC Berlin and FC Bayern Munich in Berlin, Germany. German soccer fans are increasingly unhappy at how the game is developing in their country amid Monday night games, video assistance, questionable sponsorship arrangements and increasing pressure on the rule restricting investors. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)
Real Madrid and Germany midfielder Toni Kroos is one of the few players who can boast winning the Champions League on three occasions, and with different clubs at that. He is also the first German to accomplish such a notable feat. The 28-year old won the coveted, big-eared trophy with Bayern Munich almost five years ago, but played no part in the final as the result of an injury. Since moving to Madrid, though, the German has added two more winners' medals to his personal cabinet in a more...
VIDEO: 3-Time Champions League Winner Toni Kroos Reveals Most Emotional UCL Final Win
Real Madrid and Germany midfielder Toni Kroos is one of the few players who can boast winning the Champions League on three occasions, and with different clubs at that. He is also the first German to accomplish such a notable feat. The 28-year old won the coveted, big-eared trophy with Bayern Munich almost five years ago, but played no part in the final as the result of an injury. Since moving to Madrid, though, the German has added two more winners' medals to his personal cabinet in a more...
Real Madrid and Germany midfielder Toni Kroos is one of the few players who can boast winning the Champions League on three occasions, and with different clubs at that. He is also the first German to accomplish such a notable feat. The 28-year old won the coveted, big-eared trophy with Bayern Munich almost five years ago, but played no part in the final as the result of an injury. Since moving to Madrid, though, the German has added two more winners' medals to his personal cabinet in a more...
VIDEO: 3-Time Champions League Winner Toni Kroos Reveals Most Emotional UCL Final Win
Real Madrid and Germany midfielder Toni Kroos is one of the few players who can boast winning the Champions League on three occasions, and with different clubs at that. He is also the first German to accomplish such a notable feat. The 28-year old won the coveted, big-eared trophy with Bayern Munich almost five years ago, but played no part in the final as the result of an injury. Since moving to Madrid, though, the German has added two more winners' medals to his personal cabinet in a more...
Real Madrid and Germany midfielder Toni Kroos is one of the few players who can boast winning the Champions League on three occasions, and with different clubs at that. He is also the first German to accomplish such a notable feat. The 28-year old won the coveted, big-eared trophy with Bayern Munich almost five years ago, but played no part in the final as the result of an injury. Since moving to Madrid, though, the German has added two more winners' medals to his personal cabinet in a more...
VIDEO: 3-Time Champions League Winner Toni Kroos Reveals Most Emotional UCL Final Win
Real Madrid and Germany midfielder Toni Kroos is one of the few players who can boast winning the Champions League on three occasions, and with different clubs at that. He is also the first German to accomplish such a notable feat. The 28-year old won the coveted, big-eared trophy with Bayern Munich almost five years ago, but played no part in the final as the result of an injury. Since moving to Madrid, though, the German has added two more winners' medals to his personal cabinet in a more...
Russia occupies a curious status in Celtic’s chronicles, a trend that will be extended if Brendan Rodgers steers the Hoops past Zenit St Petersburg to a place in Friday’s draw for the last 16 of the Europa League. Despite the country’s reputation for inhospitable receptions to foreign interlopers, Celtic have found their recent visits to be productive. Tony Mowbray, whose record in Glasgow was nondescript, nevertheless became the first manager to follow a home defeat in Europe with a victory away over the same opposition when his players lost 1-0 to Dynamo at Celtic Park in the 2009 Champions League qualifiers but advanced with a 2-0 win in the Russian capital. In October 2012, Neil Lennon supervised Celtic’s first away success in the Champions League group stage when they beat Spartak 3-2. Now Rodgers has the opportunity to accomplish a feat that seemed distinctly unlikely only a couple of weeks ago, when Celtic stumbled to defeat at Kilmarnock. Qualification for European football after Christmas was merited because of a 3-0 Champions League group stage victory over Anderlecht in Belgium, in which Celtic’s tactical and physical superiority set them on course for third place in their section, behind Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. The presence of the French and German superpowers was responsible for Celtic conceding 18 goals, more than any other side at that stage of the tournament. Zenit, by contrast, scored 17 to enter the Europa League knockout stage as the competition’s most prolific contenders. Callum McGregor scores Celtic's winner in the 1-0 home leg defeat of Zenit Credit: Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith Moreover, Roberto Mancini’s side never failed to score during their group matches, but Celtic’s well-known frailty in central defence – plus a dispiriting injury roster – could not be exploited in the first leg at Parkhead by a Zenit side ring rusty after a winter break that saw them in action for the first time since early December. Rodgers also deserves credit for shuffling his pack to effect, having seemingly consigned Callum McGregor to the fringes of the squad, only to allot him a starting place in the first instalment of this tie, to be rewarded when the midfielder scored the goal which separates the sides. Tom Rogic who, like McGregor, can play either off the striker or in the midfield holding role, resumed business against St Johnstone last weekend but one would imagine that Rodgers, who is canny when it comes to withholding or advancing players, is likely to give McGregor the opportunity to supplement his contribution to the tie and keep Rogic back as required for either a defensive final half hour or to inject potency up front in the closing stages. Although he had inserted careful caveats when he spoke about Celtic’s prospects before the first leg in Glasgow, Rodgers did not leave himself open to an indictment of false modesty ahead of the return. “We played a perfect game really in how the players defended and attacked,” he said. Roberto Mancini says his Zenit side won't change their approach Credit: Christopher Lee - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images "Of course, we would have liked to have had one or two more goals but the concentration and our quality in our game was at a very high level. We know that over the course of the two legs we need to replicate that but the players are ready. “They showed last week they can play. If they play with that aggression, quality and intensity, then it gives us a great opportunity. Our belief has always been there. At the beginning of the first leg, I was being a realist as everyone would probably expect Zenit to go through, but what we showed in the first leg is that we're going to make it very difficult for them and going to make it really competitive. “They will be expected to go through over the two legs, so my mindset hasn't changed, but what we showed in the first leg is that if we play with our quality and to the top of our level then we can match any team.” Mancini was equally bullish. All the players are ready and we don't change a lot,” he said. “We always play well at home in the Europa League “When you play the group stage, it's different to when you play two games. I'm confident we'll play a good game, concentrate without pressure.” The temperature in St Petersburg is predicted to fall to -13C by kickoff in the Krestovsky Stadium, but the roof will be closed. In any case, if Celtic score even one goal, the chances are that their travelling fans will come home basking in the prospect of a spring flowering.
Celtic head to happy hunting ground hoping to replicate Parkhead perfection
Russia occupies a curious status in Celtic’s chronicles, a trend that will be extended if Brendan Rodgers steers the Hoops past Zenit St Petersburg to a place in Friday’s draw for the last 16 of the Europa League. Despite the country’s reputation for inhospitable receptions to foreign interlopers, Celtic have found their recent visits to be productive. Tony Mowbray, whose record in Glasgow was nondescript, nevertheless became the first manager to follow a home defeat in Europe with a victory away over the same opposition when his players lost 1-0 to Dynamo at Celtic Park in the 2009 Champions League qualifiers but advanced with a 2-0 win in the Russian capital. In October 2012, Neil Lennon supervised Celtic’s first away success in the Champions League group stage when they beat Spartak 3-2. Now Rodgers has the opportunity to accomplish a feat that seemed distinctly unlikely only a couple of weeks ago, when Celtic stumbled to defeat at Kilmarnock. Qualification for European football after Christmas was merited because of a 3-0 Champions League group stage victory over Anderlecht in Belgium, in which Celtic’s tactical and physical superiority set them on course for third place in their section, behind Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. The presence of the French and German superpowers was responsible for Celtic conceding 18 goals, more than any other side at that stage of the tournament. Zenit, by contrast, scored 17 to enter the Europa League knockout stage as the competition’s most prolific contenders. Callum McGregor scores Celtic's winner in the 1-0 home leg defeat of Zenit Credit: Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith Moreover, Roberto Mancini’s side never failed to score during their group matches, but Celtic’s well-known frailty in central defence – plus a dispiriting injury roster – could not be exploited in the first leg at Parkhead by a Zenit side ring rusty after a winter break that saw them in action for the first time since early December. Rodgers also deserves credit for shuffling his pack to effect, having seemingly consigned Callum McGregor to the fringes of the squad, only to allot him a starting place in the first instalment of this tie, to be rewarded when the midfielder scored the goal which separates the sides. Tom Rogic who, like McGregor, can play either off the striker or in the midfield holding role, resumed business against St Johnstone last weekend but one would imagine that Rodgers, who is canny when it comes to withholding or advancing players, is likely to give McGregor the opportunity to supplement his contribution to the tie and keep Rogic back as required for either a defensive final half hour or to inject potency up front in the closing stages. Although he had inserted careful caveats when he spoke about Celtic’s prospects before the first leg in Glasgow, Rodgers did not leave himself open to an indictment of false modesty ahead of the return. “We played a perfect game really in how the players defended and attacked,” he said. Roberto Mancini says his Zenit side won't change their approach Credit: Christopher Lee - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images "Of course, we would have liked to have had one or two more goals but the concentration and our quality in our game was at a very high level. We know that over the course of the two legs we need to replicate that but the players are ready. “They showed last week they can play. If they play with that aggression, quality and intensity, then it gives us a great opportunity. Our belief has always been there. At the beginning of the first leg, I was being a realist as everyone would probably expect Zenit to go through, but what we showed in the first leg is that we're going to make it very difficult for them and going to make it really competitive. “They will be expected to go through over the two legs, so my mindset hasn't changed, but what we showed in the first leg is that if we play with our quality and to the top of our level then we can match any team.” Mancini was equally bullish. All the players are ready and we don't change a lot,” he said. “We always play well at home in the Europa League “When you play the group stage, it's different to when you play two games. I'm confident we'll play a good game, concentrate without pressure.” The temperature in St Petersburg is predicted to fall to -13C by kickoff in the Krestovsky Stadium, but the roof will be closed. In any case, if Celtic score even one goal, the chances are that their travelling fans will come home basking in the prospect of a spring flowering.
Russia occupies a curious status in Celtic’s chronicles, a trend that will be extended if Brendan Rodgers steers the Hoops past Zenit St Petersburg to a place in Friday’s draw for the last 16 of the Europa League. Despite the country’s reputation for inhospitable receptions to foreign interlopers, Celtic have found their recent visits to be productive. Tony Mowbray, whose record in Glasgow was nondescript, nevertheless became the first manager to follow a home defeat in Europe with a victory away over the same opposition when his players lost 1-0 to Dynamo at Celtic Park in the 2009 Champions League qualifiers but advanced with a 2-0 win in the Russian capital. In October 2012, Neil Lennon supervised Celtic’s first away success in the Champions League group stage when they beat Spartak 3-2. Now Rodgers has the opportunity to accomplish a feat that seemed distinctly unlikely only a couple of weeks ago, when Celtic stumbled to defeat at Kilmarnock. Qualification for European football after Christmas was merited because of a 3-0 Champions League group stage victory over Anderlecht in Belgium, in which Celtic’s tactical and physical superiority set them on course for third place in their section, behind Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. The presence of the French and German superpowers was responsible for Celtic conceding 18 goals, more than any other side at that stage of the tournament. Zenit, by contrast, scored 17 to enter the Europa League knockout stage as the competition’s most prolific contenders. Callum McGregor scores Celtic's winner in the 1-0 home leg defeat of Zenit Credit: Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith Moreover, Roberto Mancini’s side never failed to score during their group matches, but Celtic’s well-known frailty in central defence – plus a dispiriting injury roster – could not be exploited in the first leg at Parkhead by a Zenit side ring rusty after a winter break that saw them in action for the first time since early December. Rodgers also deserves credit for shuffling his pack to effect, having seemingly consigned Callum McGregor to the fringes of the squad, only to allot him a starting place in the first instalment of this tie, to be rewarded when the midfielder scored the goal which separates the sides. Tom Rogic who, like McGregor, can play either off the striker or in the midfield holding role, resumed business against St Johnstone last weekend but one would imagine that Rodgers, who is canny when it comes to withholding or advancing players, is likely to give McGregor the opportunity to supplement his contribution to the tie and keep Rogic back as required for either a defensive final half hour or to inject potency up front in the closing stages. Although he had inserted careful caveats when he spoke about Celtic’s prospects before the first leg in Glasgow, Rodgers did not leave himself open to an indictment of false modesty ahead of the return. “We played a perfect game really in how the players defended and attacked,” he said. Roberto Mancini says his Zenit side won't change their approach Credit: Christopher Lee - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images "Of course, we would have liked to have had one or two more goals but the concentration and our quality in our game was at a very high level. We know that over the course of the two legs we need to replicate that but the players are ready. “They showed last week they can play. If they play with that aggression, quality and intensity, then it gives us a great opportunity. Our belief has always been there. At the beginning of the first leg, I was being a realist as everyone would probably expect Zenit to go through, but what we showed in the first leg is that we're going to make it very difficult for them and going to make it really competitive. “They will be expected to go through over the two legs, so my mindset hasn't changed, but what we showed in the first leg is that if we play with our quality and to the top of our level then we can match any team.” Mancini was equally bullish. All the players are ready and we don't change a lot,” he said. “We always play well at home in the Europa League “When you play the group stage, it's different to when you play two games. I'm confident we'll play a good game, concentrate without pressure.” The temperature in St Petersburg is predicted to fall to -13C by kickoff in the Krestovsky Stadium, but the roof will be closed. In any case, if Celtic score even one goal, the chances are that their travelling fans will come home basking in the prospect of a spring flowering.
Celtic head to happy hunting ground hoping to replicate Parkhead perfection
Russia occupies a curious status in Celtic’s chronicles, a trend that will be extended if Brendan Rodgers steers the Hoops past Zenit St Petersburg to a place in Friday’s draw for the last 16 of the Europa League. Despite the country’s reputation for inhospitable receptions to foreign interlopers, Celtic have found their recent visits to be productive. Tony Mowbray, whose record in Glasgow was nondescript, nevertheless became the first manager to follow a home defeat in Europe with a victory away over the same opposition when his players lost 1-0 to Dynamo at Celtic Park in the 2009 Champions League qualifiers but advanced with a 2-0 win in the Russian capital. In October 2012, Neil Lennon supervised Celtic’s first away success in the Champions League group stage when they beat Spartak 3-2. Now Rodgers has the opportunity to accomplish a feat that seemed distinctly unlikely only a couple of weeks ago, when Celtic stumbled to defeat at Kilmarnock. Qualification for European football after Christmas was merited because of a 3-0 Champions League group stage victory over Anderlecht in Belgium, in which Celtic’s tactical and physical superiority set them on course for third place in their section, behind Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. The presence of the French and German superpowers was responsible for Celtic conceding 18 goals, more than any other side at that stage of the tournament. Zenit, by contrast, scored 17 to enter the Europa League knockout stage as the competition’s most prolific contenders. Callum McGregor scores Celtic's winner in the 1-0 home leg defeat of Zenit Credit: Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith Moreover, Roberto Mancini’s side never failed to score during their group matches, but Celtic’s well-known frailty in central defence – plus a dispiriting injury roster – could not be exploited in the first leg at Parkhead by a Zenit side ring rusty after a winter break that saw them in action for the first time since early December. Rodgers also deserves credit for shuffling his pack to effect, having seemingly consigned Callum McGregor to the fringes of the squad, only to allot him a starting place in the first instalment of this tie, to be rewarded when the midfielder scored the goal which separates the sides. Tom Rogic who, like McGregor, can play either off the striker or in the midfield holding role, resumed business against St Johnstone last weekend but one would imagine that Rodgers, who is canny when it comes to withholding or advancing players, is likely to give McGregor the opportunity to supplement his contribution to the tie and keep Rogic back as required for either a defensive final half hour or to inject potency up front in the closing stages. Although he had inserted careful caveats when he spoke about Celtic’s prospects before the first leg in Glasgow, Rodgers did not leave himself open to an indictment of false modesty ahead of the return. “We played a perfect game really in how the players defended and attacked,” he said. Roberto Mancini says his Zenit side won't change their approach Credit: Christopher Lee - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images "Of course, we would have liked to have had one or two more goals but the concentration and our quality in our game was at a very high level. We know that over the course of the two legs we need to replicate that but the players are ready. “They showed last week they can play. If they play with that aggression, quality and intensity, then it gives us a great opportunity. Our belief has always been there. At the beginning of the first leg, I was being a realist as everyone would probably expect Zenit to go through, but what we showed in the first leg is that we're going to make it very difficult for them and going to make it really competitive. “They will be expected to go through over the two legs, so my mindset hasn't changed, but what we showed in the first leg is that if we play with our quality and to the top of our level then we can match any team.” Mancini was equally bullish. All the players are ready and we don't change a lot,” he said. “We always play well at home in the Europa League “When you play the group stage, it's different to when you play two games. I'm confident we'll play a good game, concentrate without pressure.” The temperature in St Petersburg is predicted to fall to -13C by kickoff in the Krestovsky Stadium, but the roof will be closed. In any case, if Celtic score even one goal, the chances are that their travelling fans will come home basking in the prospect of a spring flowering.
Russia occupies a curious status in Celtic’s chronicles, a trend that will be extended if Brendan Rodgers steers the Hoops past Zenit St Petersburg to a place in Friday’s draw for the last 16 of the Europa League. Despite the country’s reputation for inhospitable receptions to foreign interlopers, Celtic have found their recent visits to be productive. Tony Mowbray, whose record in Glasgow was nondescript, nevertheless became the first manager to follow a home defeat in Europe with a victory away over the same opposition when his players lost 1-0 to Dynamo at Celtic Park in the 2009 Champions League qualifiers but advanced with a 2-0 win in the Russian capital. In October 2012, Neil Lennon supervised Celtic’s first away success in the Champions League group stage when they beat Spartak 3-2. Now Rodgers has the opportunity to accomplish a feat that seemed distinctly unlikely only a couple of weeks ago, when Celtic stumbled to defeat at Kilmarnock. Qualification for European football after Christmas was merited because of a 3-0 Champions League group stage victory over Anderlecht in Belgium, in which Celtic’s tactical and physical superiority set them on course for third place in their section, behind Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. The presence of the French and German superpowers was responsible for Celtic conceding 18 goals, more than any other side at that stage of the tournament. Zenit, by contrast, scored 17 to enter the Europa League knockout stage as the competition’s most prolific contenders. Callum McGregor scores Celtic's winner in the 1-0 home leg defeat of Zenit Credit: Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith Moreover, Roberto Mancini’s side never failed to score during their group matches, but Celtic’s well-known frailty in central defence – plus a dispiriting injury roster – could not be exploited in the first leg at Parkhead by a Zenit side ring rusty after a winter break that saw them in action for the first time since early December. Rodgers also deserves credit for shuffling his pack to effect, having seemingly consigned Callum McGregor to the fringes of the squad, only to allot him a starting place in the first instalment of this tie, to be rewarded when the midfielder scored the goal which separates the sides. Tom Rogic who, like McGregor, can play either off the striker or in the midfield holding role, resumed business against St Johnstone last weekend but one would imagine that Rodgers, who is canny when it comes to withholding or advancing players, is likely to give McGregor the opportunity to supplement his contribution to the tie and keep Rogic back as required for either a defensive final half hour or to inject potency up front in the closing stages. Although he had inserted careful caveats when he spoke about Celtic’s prospects before the first leg in Glasgow, Rodgers did not leave himself open to an indictment of false modesty ahead of the return. “We played a perfect game really in how the players defended and attacked,” he said. Roberto Mancini says his Zenit side won't change their approach Credit: Christopher Lee - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images "Of course, we would have liked to have had one or two more goals but the concentration and our quality in our game was at a very high level. We know that over the course of the two legs we need to replicate that but the players are ready. “They showed last week they can play. If they play with that aggression, quality and intensity, then it gives us a great opportunity. Our belief has always been there. At the beginning of the first leg, I was being a realist as everyone would probably expect Zenit to go through, but what we showed in the first leg is that we're going to make it very difficult for them and going to make it really competitive. “They will be expected to go through over the two legs, so my mindset hasn't changed, but what we showed in the first leg is that if we play with our quality and to the top of our level then we can match any team.” Mancini was equally bullish. All the players are ready and we don't change a lot,” he said. “We always play well at home in the Europa League “When you play the group stage, it's different to when you play two games. I'm confident we'll play a good game, concentrate without pressure.” The temperature in St Petersburg is predicted to fall to -13C by kickoff in the Krestovsky Stadium, but the roof will be closed. In any case, if Celtic score even one goal, the chances are that their travelling fans will come home basking in the prospect of a spring flowering.
Celtic head to happy hunting ground hoping to replicate Parkhead perfection
Russia occupies a curious status in Celtic’s chronicles, a trend that will be extended if Brendan Rodgers steers the Hoops past Zenit St Petersburg to a place in Friday’s draw for the last 16 of the Europa League. Despite the country’s reputation for inhospitable receptions to foreign interlopers, Celtic have found their recent visits to be productive. Tony Mowbray, whose record in Glasgow was nondescript, nevertheless became the first manager to follow a home defeat in Europe with a victory away over the same opposition when his players lost 1-0 to Dynamo at Celtic Park in the 2009 Champions League qualifiers but advanced with a 2-0 win in the Russian capital. In October 2012, Neil Lennon supervised Celtic’s first away success in the Champions League group stage when they beat Spartak 3-2. Now Rodgers has the opportunity to accomplish a feat that seemed distinctly unlikely only a couple of weeks ago, when Celtic stumbled to defeat at Kilmarnock. Qualification for European football after Christmas was merited because of a 3-0 Champions League group stage victory over Anderlecht in Belgium, in which Celtic’s tactical and physical superiority set them on course for third place in their section, behind Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. The presence of the French and German superpowers was responsible for Celtic conceding 18 goals, more than any other side at that stage of the tournament. Zenit, by contrast, scored 17 to enter the Europa League knockout stage as the competition’s most prolific contenders. Callum McGregor scores Celtic's winner in the 1-0 home leg defeat of Zenit Credit: Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith Moreover, Roberto Mancini’s side never failed to score during their group matches, but Celtic’s well-known frailty in central defence – plus a dispiriting injury roster – could not be exploited in the first leg at Parkhead by a Zenit side ring rusty after a winter break that saw them in action for the first time since early December. Rodgers also deserves credit for shuffling his pack to effect, having seemingly consigned Callum McGregor to the fringes of the squad, only to allot him a starting place in the first instalment of this tie, to be rewarded when the midfielder scored the goal which separates the sides. Tom Rogic who, like McGregor, can play either off the striker or in the midfield holding role, resumed business against St Johnstone last weekend but one would imagine that Rodgers, who is canny when it comes to withholding or advancing players, is likely to give McGregor the opportunity to supplement his contribution to the tie and keep Rogic back as required for either a defensive final half hour or to inject potency up front in the closing stages. Although he had inserted careful caveats when he spoke about Celtic’s prospects before the first leg in Glasgow, Rodgers did not leave himself open to an indictment of false modesty ahead of the return. “We played a perfect game really in how the players defended and attacked,” he said. Roberto Mancini says his Zenit side won't change their approach Credit: Christopher Lee - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images "Of course, we would have liked to have had one or two more goals but the concentration and our quality in our game was at a very high level. We know that over the course of the two legs we need to replicate that but the players are ready. “They showed last week they can play. If they play with that aggression, quality and intensity, then it gives us a great opportunity. Our belief has always been there. At the beginning of the first leg, I was being a realist as everyone would probably expect Zenit to go through, but what we showed in the first leg is that we're going to make it very difficult for them and going to make it really competitive. “They will be expected to go through over the two legs, so my mindset hasn't changed, but what we showed in the first leg is that if we play with our quality and to the top of our level then we can match any team.” Mancini was equally bullish. All the players are ready and we don't change a lot,” he said. “We always play well at home in the Europa League “When you play the group stage, it's different to when you play two games. I'm confident we'll play a good game, concentrate without pressure.” The temperature in St Petersburg is predicted to fall to -13C by kickoff in the Krestovsky Stadium, but the roof will be closed. In any case, if Celtic score even one goal, the chances are that their travelling fans will come home basking in the prospect of a spring flowering.
According to Jose Mourinho Alexis Sánchez chose to join Manchester United mid-season due to his burning desire to play in Europe’s elite competition rather than its poorer cousin the Europa League, but in his first continental trip with his new side the former Arsenal man was left with a familiar feeling to those many disappointing European nights he had experienced with his former club. Granted, this was not quite like the lows of the heavy defeats by Monaco, Barcelona and Bayern Munich he had experienced in his three last 16 first legs with Arsenal, and with the tie still somehow poised at 0-0 there is every chance United will still reach the quarter-finals. But as he trudged off the pitch with 15 minutes to go to make for Marcus Rashford and having contributed very little, it was definitely not the type of night he likely had in mind when he signed for United. He spent much of the night stranded out on the left wing as Sevilla did all the attacking, with little opportunities to find space behind the highly impressive Jesús Navas who has proved remarkably effective in a new role of right full back. Sánchez had to resort to tripping the former Manchester City man in the first half to stop him tearing away from him in midfield and the booking he received meant he trod carefully whenever the Spaniard was on the ball on his flank. Paul Pogba was on the receiving end of Alexis Sanchez's advice after wasting a promising position Credit: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images Sánchez was given rough treatment himself from Franco Vazquez and Steven Nzonzi in the middle and was ineffective for most of the first half, his best moment being his pass in to Lukaku in a rare United attack which ended with the Belgian smashing the ball into the stand. He had a little more freedom in the second half but was again brought to his knees before he could cause any damage. There was little scope for him to drag his side, which looked shy and unimaginative for most of the game, towards victory. Take the moment when he raced down the left wing and took four Sevilla players with him, quickly moving the ball to Lukaku, whose attempted pass was promptly cut out, thus ending a promising attack which Sanchez had engineered. He looked similarly disgusted when Paul Pogba, the player closest to him in terms of salary, skewed an opportunistic attempt from well outside the area wide of goal. Sanchez was brought off 15 minutes before the end Credit: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images Indeed, Sánchez would have felt far more at home in the side he was playing against. Sevilla have to reinvent themselves each summer when their players get itchy feet and move to more illustrious and richer sides but their thirst for slick, entertaining football remains constant. The Andalusians have had an up and down campaign but the club has a reputation for rising to the occasion on nights like this, their first competitive meeting with United and their fourth attempt to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time. The Sánchez Pizjuán was rocking from start to finish as Sevilla’s fans created the type of atmosphere Sánchez was used to when he was taking the first steps of his career with South American giants Colo Colo and River Plate. United were spectators for much of the game but remain in the tie due to the heroics of David de Gea, who added another jaw-dropping save to his considerable collection by keeping out Luis Muriel’s shot towards the end of the first half. It is down to the Spaniard that Sánchez still has another chance to show he can shine in this competition, which he has never won and in which he still has plenty to prove. Moment that changed the match David de Gea had already made a remarkable save from Gabriel Mercado’s overhead kick but the odds were stacked against him when the ball made its way towards powerful Colombian striker Luis Muiel, but the Spaniard stunned everyone in the Sánchez Pizjuán by keeping the shot out. Most influential player It is difficult to look past De Gea, whose display to rival his save-a-minute performance against Arsenal in November. If United can see out the second leg, they should give the Spaniard a bumper new contract for keeping them in the tie. Crowd rating 9/10 - From the acapella rendition of their catchy anthem before kick off to the permanent noise and bouncing of the home fans, the Sánchez Pizjuán lived up to its reputation as one of the most atmospheric stadiums in Europe. Referee rating 6/10 - Frenchman Clément Turpin angered the ever-noisy home fans whenever he gave a foul against Sevilla but on the whole he kept the game flowing and did not have to make any big decisions, booking only Sánchez and Nzonzi. Match rating 7/10 - This was a far more entertaining spectacle than the scoreline might imply, with Sevilla crafting most of the attacking play but leaving themselves exposed enough for United to hit them on the break.
Was Alexis Sanchez left with a feeling of deja vu on his Champions League debut for Manchester United?
According to Jose Mourinho Alexis Sánchez chose to join Manchester United mid-season due to his burning desire to play in Europe’s elite competition rather than its poorer cousin the Europa League, but in his first continental trip with his new side the former Arsenal man was left with a familiar feeling to those many disappointing European nights he had experienced with his former club. Granted, this was not quite like the lows of the heavy defeats by Monaco, Barcelona and Bayern Munich he had experienced in his three last 16 first legs with Arsenal, and with the tie still somehow poised at 0-0 there is every chance United will still reach the quarter-finals. But as he trudged off the pitch with 15 minutes to go to make for Marcus Rashford and having contributed very little, it was definitely not the type of night he likely had in mind when he signed for United. He spent much of the night stranded out on the left wing as Sevilla did all the attacking, with little opportunities to find space behind the highly impressive Jesús Navas who has proved remarkably effective in a new role of right full back. Sánchez had to resort to tripping the former Manchester City man in the first half to stop him tearing away from him in midfield and the booking he received meant he trod carefully whenever the Spaniard was on the ball on his flank. Paul Pogba was on the receiving end of Alexis Sanchez's advice after wasting a promising position Credit: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images Sánchez was given rough treatment himself from Franco Vazquez and Steven Nzonzi in the middle and was ineffective for most of the first half, his best moment being his pass in to Lukaku in a rare United attack which ended with the Belgian smashing the ball into the stand. He had a little more freedom in the second half but was again brought to his knees before he could cause any damage. There was little scope for him to drag his side, which looked shy and unimaginative for most of the game, towards victory. Take the moment when he raced down the left wing and took four Sevilla players with him, quickly moving the ball to Lukaku, whose attempted pass was promptly cut out, thus ending a promising attack which Sanchez had engineered. He looked similarly disgusted when Paul Pogba, the player closest to him in terms of salary, skewed an opportunistic attempt from well outside the area wide of goal. Sanchez was brought off 15 minutes before the end Credit: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images Indeed, Sánchez would have felt far more at home in the side he was playing against. Sevilla have to reinvent themselves each summer when their players get itchy feet and move to more illustrious and richer sides but their thirst for slick, entertaining football remains constant. The Andalusians have had an up and down campaign but the club has a reputation for rising to the occasion on nights like this, their first competitive meeting with United and their fourth attempt to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time. The Sánchez Pizjuán was rocking from start to finish as Sevilla’s fans created the type of atmosphere Sánchez was used to when he was taking the first steps of his career with South American giants Colo Colo and River Plate. United were spectators for much of the game but remain in the tie due to the heroics of David de Gea, who added another jaw-dropping save to his considerable collection by keeping out Luis Muriel’s shot towards the end of the first half. It is down to the Spaniard that Sánchez still has another chance to show he can shine in this competition, which he has never won and in which he still has plenty to prove. Moment that changed the match David de Gea had already made a remarkable save from Gabriel Mercado’s overhead kick but the odds were stacked against him when the ball made its way towards powerful Colombian striker Luis Muiel, but the Spaniard stunned everyone in the Sánchez Pizjuán by keeping the shot out. Most influential player It is difficult to look past De Gea, whose display to rival his save-a-minute performance against Arsenal in November. If United can see out the second leg, they should give the Spaniard a bumper new contract for keeping them in the tie. Crowd rating 9/10 - From the acapella rendition of their catchy anthem before kick off to the permanent noise and bouncing of the home fans, the Sánchez Pizjuán lived up to its reputation as one of the most atmospheric stadiums in Europe. Referee rating 6/10 - Frenchman Clément Turpin angered the ever-noisy home fans whenever he gave a foul against Sevilla but on the whole he kept the game flowing and did not have to make any big decisions, booking only Sánchez and Nzonzi. Match rating 7/10 - This was a far more entertaining spectacle than the scoreline might imply, with Sevilla crafting most of the attacking play but leaving themselves exposed enough for United to hit them on the break.
According to Jose Mourinho Alexis Sánchez chose to join Manchester United mid-season due to his burning desire to play in Europe’s elite competition rather than its poorer cousin the Europa League, but in his first continental trip with his new side the former Arsenal man was left with a familiar feeling to those many disappointing European nights he had experienced with his former club. Granted, this was not quite like the lows of the heavy defeats by Monaco, Barcelona and Bayern Munich he had experienced in his three last 16 first legs with Arsenal, and with the tie still somehow poised at 0-0 there is every chance United will still reach the quarter-finals. But as he trudged off the pitch with 15 minutes to go to make for Marcus Rashford and having contributed very little, it was definitely not the type of night he likely had in mind when he signed for United. He spent much of the night stranded out on the left wing as Sevilla did all the attacking, with little opportunities to find space behind the highly impressive Jesús Navas who has proved remarkably effective in a new role of right full back. Sánchez had to resort to tripping the former Manchester City man in the first half to stop him tearing away from him in midfield and the booking he received meant he trod carefully whenever the Spaniard was on the ball on his flank. Paul Pogba was on the receiving end of Alexis Sanchez's advice after wasting a promising position Credit: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images Sánchez was given rough treatment himself from Franco Vazquez and Steven Nzonzi in the middle and was ineffective for most of the first half, his best moment being his pass in to Lukaku in a rare United attack which ended with the Belgian smashing the ball into the stand. He had a little more freedom in the second half but was again brought to his knees before he could cause any damage. There was little scope for him to drag his side, which looked shy and unimaginative for most of the game, towards victory. Take the moment when he raced down the left wing and took four Sevilla players with him, quickly moving the ball to Lukaku, whose attempted pass was promptly cut out, thus ending a promising attack which Sanchez had engineered. He looked similarly disgusted when Paul Pogba, the player closest to him in terms of salary, skewed an opportunistic attempt from well outside the area wide of goal. Sanchez was brought off 15 minutes before the end Credit: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images Indeed, Sánchez would have felt far more at home in the side he was playing against. Sevilla have to reinvent themselves each summer when their players get itchy feet and move to more illustrious and richer sides but their thirst for slick, entertaining football remains constant. The Andalusians have had an up and down campaign but the club has a reputation for rising to the occasion on nights like this, their first competitive meeting with United and their fourth attempt to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time. The Sánchez Pizjuán was rocking from start to finish as Sevilla’s fans created the type of atmosphere Sánchez was used to when he was taking the first steps of his career with South American giants Colo Colo and River Plate. United were spectators for much of the game but remain in the tie due to the heroics of David de Gea, who added another jaw-dropping save to his considerable collection by keeping out Luis Muriel’s shot towards the end of the first half. It is down to the Spaniard that Sánchez still has another chance to show he can shine in this competition, which he has never won and in which he still has plenty to prove. Moment that changed the match David de Gea had already made a remarkable save from Gabriel Mercado’s overhead kick but the odds were stacked against him when the ball made its way towards powerful Colombian striker Luis Muiel, but the Spaniard stunned everyone in the Sánchez Pizjuán by keeping the shot out. Most influential player It is difficult to look past De Gea, whose display to rival his save-a-minute performance against Arsenal in November. If United can see out the second leg, they should give the Spaniard a bumper new contract for keeping them in the tie. Crowd rating 9/10 - From the acapella rendition of their catchy anthem before kick off to the permanent noise and bouncing of the home fans, the Sánchez Pizjuán lived up to its reputation as one of the most atmospheric stadiums in Europe. Referee rating 6/10 - Frenchman Clément Turpin angered the ever-noisy home fans whenever he gave a foul against Sevilla but on the whole he kept the game flowing and did not have to make any big decisions, booking only Sánchez and Nzonzi. Match rating 7/10 - This was a far more entertaining spectacle than the scoreline might imply, with Sevilla crafting most of the attacking play but leaving themselves exposed enough for United to hit them on the break.
Was Alexis Sanchez left with a feeling of deja vu on his Champions League debut for Manchester United?
According to Jose Mourinho Alexis Sánchez chose to join Manchester United mid-season due to his burning desire to play in Europe’s elite competition rather than its poorer cousin the Europa League, but in his first continental trip with his new side the former Arsenal man was left with a familiar feeling to those many disappointing European nights he had experienced with his former club. Granted, this was not quite like the lows of the heavy defeats by Monaco, Barcelona and Bayern Munich he had experienced in his three last 16 first legs with Arsenal, and with the tie still somehow poised at 0-0 there is every chance United will still reach the quarter-finals. But as he trudged off the pitch with 15 minutes to go to make for Marcus Rashford and having contributed very little, it was definitely not the type of night he likely had in mind when he signed for United. He spent much of the night stranded out on the left wing as Sevilla did all the attacking, with little opportunities to find space behind the highly impressive Jesús Navas who has proved remarkably effective in a new role of right full back. Sánchez had to resort to tripping the former Manchester City man in the first half to stop him tearing away from him in midfield and the booking he received meant he trod carefully whenever the Spaniard was on the ball on his flank. Paul Pogba was on the receiving end of Alexis Sanchez's advice after wasting a promising position Credit: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images Sánchez was given rough treatment himself from Franco Vazquez and Steven Nzonzi in the middle and was ineffective for most of the first half, his best moment being his pass in to Lukaku in a rare United attack which ended with the Belgian smashing the ball into the stand. He had a little more freedom in the second half but was again brought to his knees before he could cause any damage. There was little scope for him to drag his side, which looked shy and unimaginative for most of the game, towards victory. Take the moment when he raced down the left wing and took four Sevilla players with him, quickly moving the ball to Lukaku, whose attempted pass was promptly cut out, thus ending a promising attack which Sanchez had engineered. He looked similarly disgusted when Paul Pogba, the player closest to him in terms of salary, skewed an opportunistic attempt from well outside the area wide of goal. Sanchez was brought off 15 minutes before the end Credit: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images Indeed, Sánchez would have felt far more at home in the side he was playing against. Sevilla have to reinvent themselves each summer when their players get itchy feet and move to more illustrious and richer sides but their thirst for slick, entertaining football remains constant. The Andalusians have had an up and down campaign but the club has a reputation for rising to the occasion on nights like this, their first competitive meeting with United and their fourth attempt to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time. The Sánchez Pizjuán was rocking from start to finish as Sevilla’s fans created the type of atmosphere Sánchez was used to when he was taking the first steps of his career with South American giants Colo Colo and River Plate. United were spectators for much of the game but remain in the tie due to the heroics of David de Gea, who added another jaw-dropping save to his considerable collection by keeping out Luis Muriel’s shot towards the end of the first half. It is down to the Spaniard that Sánchez still has another chance to show he can shine in this competition, which he has never won and in which he still has plenty to prove. Moment that changed the match David de Gea had already made a remarkable save from Gabriel Mercado’s overhead kick but the odds were stacked against him when the ball made its way towards powerful Colombian striker Luis Muiel, but the Spaniard stunned everyone in the Sánchez Pizjuán by keeping the shot out. Most influential player It is difficult to look past De Gea, whose display to rival his save-a-minute performance against Arsenal in November. If United can see out the second leg, they should give the Spaniard a bumper new contract for keeping them in the tie. Crowd rating 9/10 - From the acapella rendition of their catchy anthem before kick off to the permanent noise and bouncing of the home fans, the Sánchez Pizjuán lived up to its reputation as one of the most atmospheric stadiums in Europe. Referee rating 6/10 - Frenchman Clément Turpin angered the ever-noisy home fans whenever he gave a foul against Sevilla but on the whole he kept the game flowing and did not have to make any big decisions, booking only Sánchez and Nzonzi. Match rating 7/10 - This was a far more entertaining spectacle than the scoreline might imply, with Sevilla crafting most of the attacking play but leaving themselves exposed enough for United to hit them on the break.
According to Jose Mourinho Alexis Sánchez chose to join Manchester United mid-season due to his burning desire to play in Europe’s elite competition rather than its poorer cousin the Europa League, but in his first continental trip with his new side the former Arsenal man was left with a familiar feeling to those many disappointing European nights he had experienced with his former club. Granted, this was not quite like the lows of the heavy defeats by Monaco, Barcelona and Bayern Munich he had experienced in his three last 16 first legs with Arsenal, and with the tie still somehow poised at 0-0 there is every chance United will still reach the quarter-finals. But as he trudged off the pitch with 15 minutes to go to make for Marcus Rashford and having contributed very little, it was definitely not the type of night he likely had in mind when he signed for United. He spent much of the night stranded out on the left wing as Sevilla did all the attacking, with little opportunities to find space behind the highly impressive Jesús Navas who has proved remarkably effective in a new role of right full back. Sánchez had to resort to tripping the former Manchester City man in the first half to stop him tearing away from him in midfield and the booking he received meant he trod carefully whenever the Spaniard was on the ball on his flank. Paul Pogba was on the receiving end of Alexis Sanchez's advice after wasting a promising position Credit: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images Sánchez was given rough treatment himself from Franco Vazquez and Steven Nzonzi in the middle and was ineffective for most of the first half, his best moment being his pass in to Lukaku in a rare United attack which ended with the Belgian smashing the ball into the stand. He had a little more freedom in the second half but was again brought to his knees before he could cause any damage. There was little scope for him to drag his side, which looked shy and unimaginative for most of the game, towards victory. Take the moment when he raced down the left wing and took four Sevilla players with him, quickly moving the ball to Lukaku, whose attempted pass was promptly cut out, thus ending a promising attack which Sanchez had engineered. He looked similarly disgusted when Paul Pogba, the player closest to him in terms of salary, skewed an opportunistic attempt from well outside the area wide of goal. Sanchez was brought off 15 minutes before the end Credit: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images Indeed, Sánchez would have felt far more at home in the side he was playing against. Sevilla have to reinvent themselves each summer when their players get itchy feet and move to more illustrious and richer sides but their thirst for slick, entertaining football remains constant. The Andalusians have had an up and down campaign but the club has a reputation for rising to the occasion on nights like this, their first competitive meeting with United and their fourth attempt to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time. The Sánchez Pizjuán was rocking from start to finish as Sevilla’s fans created the type of atmosphere Sánchez was used to when he was taking the first steps of his career with South American giants Colo Colo and River Plate. United were spectators for much of the game but remain in the tie due to the heroics of David de Gea, who added another jaw-dropping save to his considerable collection by keeping out Luis Muriel’s shot towards the end of the first half. It is down to the Spaniard that Sánchez still has another chance to show he can shine in this competition, which he has never won and in which he still has plenty to prove. Moment that changed the match David de Gea had already made a remarkable save from Gabriel Mercado’s overhead kick but the odds were stacked against him when the ball made its way towards powerful Colombian striker Luis Muiel, but the Spaniard stunned everyone in the Sánchez Pizjuán by keeping the shot out. Most influential player It is difficult to look past De Gea, whose display to rival his save-a-minute performance against Arsenal in November. If United can see out the second leg, they should give the Spaniard a bumper new contract for keeping them in the tie. Crowd rating 9/10 - From the acapella rendition of their catchy anthem before kick off to the permanent noise and bouncing of the home fans, the Sánchez Pizjuán lived up to its reputation as one of the most atmospheric stadiums in Europe. Referee rating 6/10 - Frenchman Clément Turpin angered the ever-noisy home fans whenever he gave a foul against Sevilla but on the whole he kept the game flowing and did not have to make any big decisions, booking only Sánchez and Nzonzi. Match rating 7/10 - This was a far more entertaining spectacle than the scoreline might imply, with Sevilla crafting most of the attacking play but leaving themselves exposed enough for United to hit them on the break.
Was Alexis Sanchez left with a feeling of deja vu on his Champions League debut for Manchester United?
According to Jose Mourinho Alexis Sánchez chose to join Manchester United mid-season due to his burning desire to play in Europe’s elite competition rather than its poorer cousin the Europa League, but in his first continental trip with his new side the former Arsenal man was left with a familiar feeling to those many disappointing European nights he had experienced with his former club. Granted, this was not quite like the lows of the heavy defeats by Monaco, Barcelona and Bayern Munich he had experienced in his three last 16 first legs with Arsenal, and with the tie still somehow poised at 0-0 there is every chance United will still reach the quarter-finals. But as he trudged off the pitch with 15 minutes to go to make for Marcus Rashford and having contributed very little, it was definitely not the type of night he likely had in mind when he signed for United. He spent much of the night stranded out on the left wing as Sevilla did all the attacking, with little opportunities to find space behind the highly impressive Jesús Navas who has proved remarkably effective in a new role of right full back. Sánchez had to resort to tripping the former Manchester City man in the first half to stop him tearing away from him in midfield and the booking he received meant he trod carefully whenever the Spaniard was on the ball on his flank. Paul Pogba was on the receiving end of Alexis Sanchez's advice after wasting a promising position Credit: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images Sánchez was given rough treatment himself from Franco Vazquez and Steven Nzonzi in the middle and was ineffective for most of the first half, his best moment being his pass in to Lukaku in a rare United attack which ended with the Belgian smashing the ball into the stand. He had a little more freedom in the second half but was again brought to his knees before he could cause any damage. There was little scope for him to drag his side, which looked shy and unimaginative for most of the game, towards victory. Take the moment when he raced down the left wing and took four Sevilla players with him, quickly moving the ball to Lukaku, whose attempted pass was promptly cut out, thus ending a promising attack which Sanchez had engineered. He looked similarly disgusted when Paul Pogba, the player closest to him in terms of salary, skewed an opportunistic attempt from well outside the area wide of goal. Sanchez was brought off 15 minutes before the end Credit: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images Indeed, Sánchez would have felt far more at home in the side he was playing against. Sevilla have to reinvent themselves each summer when their players get itchy feet and move to more illustrious and richer sides but their thirst for slick, entertaining football remains constant. The Andalusians have had an up and down campaign but the club has a reputation for rising to the occasion on nights like this, their first competitive meeting with United and their fourth attempt to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time. The Sánchez Pizjuán was rocking from start to finish as Sevilla’s fans created the type of atmosphere Sánchez was used to when he was taking the first steps of his career with South American giants Colo Colo and River Plate. United were spectators for much of the game but remain in the tie due to the heroics of David de Gea, who added another jaw-dropping save to his considerable collection by keeping out Luis Muriel’s shot towards the end of the first half. It is down to the Spaniard that Sánchez still has another chance to show he can shine in this competition, which he has never won and in which he still has plenty to prove. Moment that changed the match David de Gea had already made a remarkable save from Gabriel Mercado’s overhead kick but the odds were stacked against him when the ball made its way towards powerful Colombian striker Luis Muiel, but the Spaniard stunned everyone in the Sánchez Pizjuán by keeping the shot out. Most influential player It is difficult to look past De Gea, whose display to rival his save-a-minute performance against Arsenal in November. If United can see out the second leg, they should give the Spaniard a bumper new contract for keeping them in the tie. Crowd rating 9/10 - From the acapella rendition of their catchy anthem before kick off to the permanent noise and bouncing of the home fans, the Sánchez Pizjuán lived up to its reputation as one of the most atmospheric stadiums in Europe. Referee rating 6/10 - Frenchman Clément Turpin angered the ever-noisy home fans whenever he gave a foul against Sevilla but on the whole he kept the game flowing and did not have to make any big decisions, booking only Sánchez and Nzonzi. Match rating 7/10 - This was a far more entertaining spectacle than the scoreline might imply, with Sevilla crafting most of the attacking play but leaving themselves exposed enough for United to hit them on the break.
James Rodriguez suffered a calf strain against Besiktas on Tuesday, but Bayern Munich do not expect him to be out for long.
James to miss 'a few days' of Bayern training with calf injury
James Rodriguez suffered a calf strain against Besiktas on Tuesday, but Bayern Munich do not expect him to be out for long.
<p>The Champions League competitions in Europe and America are going on simultaneously after the start of CONCACAF&#39;s round of 16 on Tuesday night, and they&#39;re at the center of the latest episode of Planet Fútbol TV.</p><p>We&#39;re joined by ESPN announcer–and the Spanish voice of FIFA 18–Fernando Palomo and journalist Paul Tenorio to discuss both competitions and much more. In Europe, who from the opening matches last week impressed the most, and does PSG have a chance to come back vs. Real Madrid? <em>(Note: This week&#39;s show was taped prior to <a href="https://www.si.com/soccer/2018/02/20/champions-league-chelsea-barcelona-messi-willian-bayern-munich-besiktas" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Chelsea&#39;s draw vs. Barcelona and Bayern Munich&#39;s rout of Besiktas" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Chelsea&#39;s draw vs. Barcelona and Bayern Munich&#39;s rout of Besiktas</a>)</em></p><p>In CONCACAF, will this <em>finally</em> be the year that <a href="https://www.si.com/soccer/2018/02/20/concacaf-champions-league-format-mls-toronto-fc" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:an MLS team lifts the regional trophy" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">an MLS team lifts the regional trophy</a>, or will it be Charlie Brown and the football all over again? Star-studded Toronto FC figures to have as good a chance as any, but as we&#39;ve seen in the past, nothing can be taken for granted when it comes to MLS and CCL.</p><p>We also turn our attention to domestic leagues, such as in England, where Manchester United and Chelsea square off on Sunday in a massive Premier League showdown, and the USA, where the MLS season is set to kick off after the addition of expansion team LAFC.</p><p>Watch this week&#39;s full episode above, and you can watch all past episodes via Amazon Channels. <a href="https://www.si.com/planetfutbolTV" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sign up here for a free seven-day trial" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sign up here for a free seven-day trial</a>.</p>
Planet Fútbol TV: Champions League Takeaways, CCL Expectations for MLS

The Champions League competitions in Europe and America are going on simultaneously after the start of CONCACAF's round of 16 on Tuesday night, and they're at the center of the latest episode of Planet Fútbol TV.

We're joined by ESPN announcer–and the Spanish voice of FIFA 18–Fernando Palomo and journalist Paul Tenorio to discuss both competitions and much more. In Europe, who from the opening matches last week impressed the most, and does PSG have a chance to come back vs. Real Madrid? (Note: This week's show was taped prior to Chelsea's draw vs. Barcelona and Bayern Munich's rout of Besiktas)

In CONCACAF, will this finally be the year that an MLS team lifts the regional trophy, or will it be Charlie Brown and the football all over again? Star-studded Toronto FC figures to have as good a chance as any, but as we've seen in the past, nothing can be taken for granted when it comes to MLS and CCL.

We also turn our attention to domestic leagues, such as in England, where Manchester United and Chelsea square off on Sunday in a massive Premier League showdown, and the USA, where the MLS season is set to kick off after the addition of expansion team LAFC.

Watch this week's full episode above, and you can watch all past episodes via Amazon Channels. Sign up here for a free seven-day trial.

Bayern Munich&#39;s former Sporting Director, Matthias Sammer, has admitted that it was a mistake for the German side to sell Toni Kross to Real Madrid in 2014. However, the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder - who was the last German player to win the Ballon d&#39;Or - also claimed that decision to swap Bavaria for Madrid has worked out well for the 28-year-old midfielder. &quot;Sometimes there are situations that you have to analyse honestly in retrospect,&quot; Sammer told German publication Sport Bild -...
Ex-Bayern Munich Sporting Director Admits 'Very Bad' Decision to Sanction Toni Kroos Sale
Bayern Munich's former Sporting Director, Matthias Sammer, has admitted that it was a mistake for the German side to sell Toni Kross to Real Madrid in 2014. However, the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder - who was the last German player to win the Ballon d'Or - also claimed that decision to swap Bavaria for Madrid has worked out well for the 28-year-old midfielder. "Sometimes there are situations that you have to analyse honestly in retrospect," Sammer told German publication Sport Bild -...
Bayern Munich&#39;s former Sporting Director, Matthias Sammer, has admitted that it was a mistake for the German side to sell Toni Kross to Real Madrid in 2014. However, the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder - who was the last German player to win the Ballon d&#39;Or - also claimed that decision to swap Bavaria for Madrid has worked out well for the 28-year-old midfielder. &quot;Sometimes there are situations that you have to analyse honestly in retrospect,&quot; Sammer told German publication Sport Bild -...
Ex-Bayern Munich Sporting Director Admits 'Very Bad' Decision to Sanction Toni Kroos Sale
Bayern Munich's former Sporting Director, Matthias Sammer, has admitted that it was a mistake for the German side to sell Toni Kross to Real Madrid in 2014. However, the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder - who was the last German player to win the Ballon d'Or - also claimed that decision to swap Bavaria for Madrid has worked out well for the 28-year-old midfielder. "Sometimes there are situations that you have to analyse honestly in retrospect," Sammer told German publication Sport Bild -...
Bayern Munich&#39;s former Sporting Director, Matthias Sammer, has admitted that it was a mistake for the German side to sell Toni Kross to Real Madrid in 2014. However, the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder - who was the last German player to win the Ballon d&#39;Or - also claimed that decision to swap Bavaria for Madrid has worked out well for the 28-year-old midfielder. &quot;Sometimes there are situations that you have to analyse honestly in retrospect,&quot; Sammer told German publication Sport Bild -...
Ex-Bayern Munich Sporting Director Admits 'Very Bad' Decision to Sanction Toni Kroos Sale
Bayern Munich's former Sporting Director, Matthias Sammer, has admitted that it was a mistake for the German side to sell Toni Kross to Real Madrid in 2014. However, the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder - who was the last German player to win the Ballon d'Or - also claimed that decision to swap Bavaria for Madrid has worked out well for the 28-year-old midfielder. "Sometimes there are situations that you have to analyse honestly in retrospect," Sammer told German publication Sport Bild -...
Here is a selection of results from this season&#39;s Champions League group stage: Liverpool 7-0 Spartak Moscow; APOEL Nicosia 0-6 Real Madrid; Paris Saint-Germain 7-1 Celtic; Chelsea 6-0 Qarabag; Maribor 0-7 Liverpool; PSG 5-0 Anderlecht. Since then, the six knockout stage games so far have seen Manchester City beat Basel 4-0 away from home and Liverpool win 5-0 at Porto, before Bayern Munich thrashed Besiktas 5-0 last night. In total, there have already been 12 occasions in this season&#39;s competition where a team has scored five or more goals. That is already the joint-most in any of the last 10 seasons, with 10 games still to come in this round alone. Too many more one-sided games in the latter stages of the competition may be unlikely, but the fact there have been so many is indicative of a growing trend. The only other campaign that can match 2017/18 for Champions League thrashings is, you&#39;ve guessed it, 2016/17. Number of times a team scored five or more goals in a game | Champions League Three of the last four seasons have seen five or more goals scored in a game at least 10 times. None of the previous six campaigns reached 10 games in total. The manner of Bayern&#39;s resounding win over Besiktas followed the idea that there is a growing chasm between two tiers of European football: the elite and the rest. Second round ties that are &#39;finished&#39; - or as good as over - after the first leg are increasingly commonplace. In the last 10 years, 10 first legs have been won by three or more goals in the first knockout round. Five of those (all by four or more goals) have occurred either this season or last. Second round first legs won by 3+ goals | Champions League Just as the &#39;big six&#39; are breaking away in the Premier League, Europe&#39;s elite competition is increasingly dominated by the game&#39;s richest sides. The last five winners of the Champions League reads like a list of Europe&#39;s heavyweights: Real Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich. Before that? Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Manchester United, AC Milan, Barcelona. Chelsea winning in 2011/12 was a surprise but when a filthy rich club funded by a billionaire Russian oligarch are the plucky underdog that really says something. Not since Liverpool in 2005 have we seen a true outsider lift the trophy. A run like that of 1991 to 1999 when nine different teams from seven different countries won the competition is unthinkable now. This season, it looks - so far, at least - as though the favourites will progress from each of the second-round ties, with Tottenham&#39;s potential path past Juventus the exception. But remember, Tottenham ranked 11th in Deloitte&#39;s 2018 rich list. They may be challenging the status quo both domestically and in Europe, but they are hardlypoor, and seeing off Juve having already won their group would not be a gigantic upset. Will we ever see another shock like Mourinho&#39;s Porto in 2004? Credit: Action images Jose Mourinho leading Porto to Champions League glory in 2004 has become a distant memory, a figment of the imagination, no more than a dream for the lesser sides, no longer anything resembling a possible reality. What chance did Porto, Besiktas and Basel stand in this season&#39;s competition? What hope did they have of winning the Champions League this season? How much chance was there of them even reaching the quarter-finals without a favourable draw like that which Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk have been dealt? Would those teams all have been better off focusing on domestic matters? The only way into the elite now seems through significant financial power. Monaco made it to last season&#39;s Champions League semi-finals but the riches of the Premier League and PSG proved a draw too great for so many of their key players and they finished bottom of their group with two points this time around. The European elite is moving away from the rest, and breaking into it is looking more difficult than ever. Tottenham might challenge them this season but even if they do, what would their reward be? A multi-million pound move for Harry Kane to Real Madrid, most likely.
Are we seeing the death of the European underdog?
Here is a selection of results from this season's Champions League group stage: Liverpool 7-0 Spartak Moscow; APOEL Nicosia 0-6 Real Madrid; Paris Saint-Germain 7-1 Celtic; Chelsea 6-0 Qarabag; Maribor 0-7 Liverpool; PSG 5-0 Anderlecht. Since then, the six knockout stage games so far have seen Manchester City beat Basel 4-0 away from home and Liverpool win 5-0 at Porto, before Bayern Munich thrashed Besiktas 5-0 last night. In total, there have already been 12 occasions in this season's competition where a team has scored five or more goals. That is already the joint-most in any of the last 10 seasons, with 10 games still to come in this round alone. Too many more one-sided games in the latter stages of the competition may be unlikely, but the fact there have been so many is indicative of a growing trend. The only other campaign that can match 2017/18 for Champions League thrashings is, you've guessed it, 2016/17. Number of times a team scored five or more goals in a game | Champions League Three of the last four seasons have seen five or more goals scored in a game at least 10 times. None of the previous six campaigns reached 10 games in total. The manner of Bayern's resounding win over Besiktas followed the idea that there is a growing chasm between two tiers of European football: the elite and the rest. Second round ties that are 'finished' - or as good as over - after the first leg are increasingly commonplace. In the last 10 years, 10 first legs have been won by three or more goals in the first knockout round. Five of those (all by four or more goals) have occurred either this season or last. Second round first legs won by 3+ goals | Champions League Just as the 'big six' are breaking away in the Premier League, Europe's elite competition is increasingly dominated by the game's richest sides. The last five winners of the Champions League reads like a list of Europe's heavyweights: Real Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich. Before that? Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Manchester United, AC Milan, Barcelona. Chelsea winning in 2011/12 was a surprise but when a filthy rich club funded by a billionaire Russian oligarch are the plucky underdog that really says something. Not since Liverpool in 2005 have we seen a true outsider lift the trophy. A run like that of 1991 to 1999 when nine different teams from seven different countries won the competition is unthinkable now. This season, it looks - so far, at least - as though the favourites will progress from each of the second-round ties, with Tottenham's potential path past Juventus the exception. But remember, Tottenham ranked 11th in Deloitte's 2018 rich list. They may be challenging the status quo both domestically and in Europe, but they are hardlypoor, and seeing off Juve having already won their group would not be a gigantic upset. Will we ever see another shock like Mourinho's Porto in 2004? Credit: Action images Jose Mourinho leading Porto to Champions League glory in 2004 has become a distant memory, a figment of the imagination, no more than a dream for the lesser sides, no longer anything resembling a possible reality. What chance did Porto, Besiktas and Basel stand in this season's competition? What hope did they have of winning the Champions League this season? How much chance was there of them even reaching the quarter-finals without a favourable draw like that which Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk have been dealt? Would those teams all have been better off focusing on domestic matters? The only way into the elite now seems through significant financial power. Monaco made it to last season's Champions League semi-finals but the riches of the Premier League and PSG proved a draw too great for so many of their key players and they finished bottom of their group with two points this time around. The European elite is moving away from the rest, and breaking into it is looking more difficult than ever. Tottenham might challenge them this season but even if they do, what would their reward be? A multi-million pound move for Harry Kane to Real Madrid, most likely.
Here is a selection of results from this season&#39;s Champions League group stage: Liverpool 7-0 Spartak Moscow; APOEL Nicosia 0-6 Real Madrid; Paris Saint-Germain 7-1 Celtic; Chelsea 6-0 Qarabag; Maribor 0-7 Liverpool; PSG 5-0 Anderlecht. Since then, the six knockout stage games so far have seen Manchester City beat Basel 4-0 away from home and Liverpool win 5-0 at Porto, before Bayern Munich thrashed Besiktas 5-0 last night. In total, there have already been 12 occasions in this season&#39;s competition where a team has scored five or more goals. That is already the joint-most in any of the last 10 seasons, with 10 games still to come in this round alone. Too many more one-sided games in the latter stages of the competition may be unlikely, but the fact there have been so many is indicative of a growing trend. The only other campaign that can match 2017/18 for Champions League thrashings is, you&#39;ve guessed it, 2016/17. Number of times a team scored five or more goals in a game | Champions League Three of the last four seasons have seen five or more goals scored in a game at least 10 times. None of the previous six campaigns reached 10 games in total. The manner of Bayern&#39;s resounding win over Besiktas followed the idea that there is a growing chasm between two tiers of European football: the elite and the rest. Second round ties that are &#39;finished&#39; - or as good as over - after the first leg are increasingly commonplace. In the last 10 years, 10 first legs have been won by three or more goals in the first knockout round. Five of those (all by four or more goals) have occurred either this season or last. Second round first legs won by 3+ goals | Champions League Just as the &#39;big six&#39; are breaking away in the Premier League, Europe&#39;s elite competition is increasingly dominated by the game&#39;s richest sides. The last five winners of the Champions League reads like a list of Europe&#39;s heavyweights: Real Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich. Before that? Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Manchester United, AC Milan, Barcelona. Chelsea winning in 2011/12 was a surprise but when a filthy rich club funded by a billionaire Russian oligarch are the plucky underdog that really says something. Not since Liverpool in 2005 have we seen a true outsider lift the trophy. A run like that of 1991 to 1999 when nine different teams from seven different countries won the competition is unthinkable now. This season, it looks - so far, at least - as though the favourites will progress from each of the second-round ties, with Tottenham&#39;s potential path past Juventus the exception. But remember, Tottenham ranked 11th in Deloitte&#39;s 2018 rich list. They may be challenging the status quo both domestically and in Europe, but they are hardlypoor, and seeing off Juve having already won their group would not be a gigantic upset. Will we ever see another shock like Mourinho&#39;s Porto in 2004? Credit: Action images Jose Mourinho leading Porto to Champions League glory in 2004 has become a distant memory, a figment of the imagination, no more than a dream for the lesser sides, no longer anything resembling a possible reality. What chance did Porto, Besiktas and Basel stand in this season&#39;s competition? What hope did they have of winning the Champions League this season? How much chance was there of them even reaching the quarter-finals without a favourable draw like that which Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk have been dealt? Would those teams all have been better off focusing on domestic matters? The only way into the elite now seems through significant financial power. Monaco made it to last season&#39;s Champions League semi-finals but the riches of the Premier League and PSG proved a draw too great for so many of their key players and they finished bottom of their group with two points this time around. The European elite is moving away from the rest, and breaking into it is looking more difficult than ever. Tottenham might challenge them this season but even if they do, what would their reward be? A multi-million pound move for Harry Kane to Real Madrid, most likely.
Are we seeing the death of the European underdog?
Here is a selection of results from this season's Champions League group stage: Liverpool 7-0 Spartak Moscow; APOEL Nicosia 0-6 Real Madrid; Paris Saint-Germain 7-1 Celtic; Chelsea 6-0 Qarabag; Maribor 0-7 Liverpool; PSG 5-0 Anderlecht. Since then, the six knockout stage games so far have seen Manchester City beat Basel 4-0 away from home and Liverpool win 5-0 at Porto, before Bayern Munich thrashed Besiktas 5-0 last night. In total, there have already been 12 occasions in this season's competition where a team has scored five or more goals. That is already the joint-most in any of the last 10 seasons, with 10 games still to come in this round alone. Too many more one-sided games in the latter stages of the competition may be unlikely, but the fact there have been so many is indicative of a growing trend. The only other campaign that can match 2017/18 for Champions League thrashings is, you've guessed it, 2016/17. Number of times a team scored five or more goals in a game | Champions League Three of the last four seasons have seen five or more goals scored in a game at least 10 times. None of the previous six campaigns reached 10 games in total. The manner of Bayern's resounding win over Besiktas followed the idea that there is a growing chasm between two tiers of European football: the elite and the rest. Second round ties that are 'finished' - or as good as over - after the first leg are increasingly commonplace. In the last 10 years, 10 first legs have been won by three or more goals in the first knockout round. Five of those (all by four or more goals) have occurred either this season or last. Second round first legs won by 3+ goals | Champions League Just as the 'big six' are breaking away in the Premier League, Europe's elite competition is increasingly dominated by the game's richest sides. The last five winners of the Champions League reads like a list of Europe's heavyweights: Real Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich. Before that? Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Manchester United, AC Milan, Barcelona. Chelsea winning in 2011/12 was a surprise but when a filthy rich club funded by a billionaire Russian oligarch are the plucky underdog that really says something. Not since Liverpool in 2005 have we seen a true outsider lift the trophy. A run like that of 1991 to 1999 when nine different teams from seven different countries won the competition is unthinkable now. This season, it looks - so far, at least - as though the favourites will progress from each of the second-round ties, with Tottenham's potential path past Juventus the exception. But remember, Tottenham ranked 11th in Deloitte's 2018 rich list. They may be challenging the status quo both domestically and in Europe, but they are hardlypoor, and seeing off Juve having already won their group would not be a gigantic upset. Will we ever see another shock like Mourinho's Porto in 2004? Credit: Action images Jose Mourinho leading Porto to Champions League glory in 2004 has become a distant memory, a figment of the imagination, no more than a dream for the lesser sides, no longer anything resembling a possible reality. What chance did Porto, Besiktas and Basel stand in this season's competition? What hope did they have of winning the Champions League this season? How much chance was there of them even reaching the quarter-finals without a favourable draw like that which Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk have been dealt? Would those teams all have been better off focusing on domestic matters? The only way into the elite now seems through significant financial power. Monaco made it to last season's Champions League semi-finals but the riches of the Premier League and PSG proved a draw too great for so many of their key players and they finished bottom of their group with two points this time around. The European elite is moving away from the rest, and breaking into it is looking more difficult than ever. Tottenham might challenge them this season but even if they do, what would their reward be? A multi-million pound move for Harry Kane to Real Madrid, most likely.
​Bayern Munich produced a strong display to ​beat Besiktas 5-0 at home in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie. The away side suffered an early blow when Domagoj Vida got a straight red for denying Robert Lewandowski a goal scoring opportunity in the 16th minute. The Bavarians took advantage eventually and went 1-0 up late in the first half thanks to Thomas Muller. A rampant Bayern then struck four more times against 10-man Besiktas in the second-half. Goals from Kingsley...
Bayern Munich's Twitter Account Finds Another Way to Troll Arsenal About the Champions League
​Bayern Munich produced a strong display to ​beat Besiktas 5-0 at home in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie. The away side suffered an early blow when Domagoj Vida got a straight red for denying Robert Lewandowski a goal scoring opportunity in the 16th minute. The Bavarians took advantage eventually and went 1-0 up late in the first half thanks to Thomas Muller. A rampant Bayern then struck four more times against 10-man Besiktas in the second-half. Goals from Kingsley...
​Bayern Munich produced a strong display to ​beat Besiktas 5-0 at home in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie. The away side suffered an early blow when Domagoj Vida got a straight red for denying Robert Lewandowski a goal scoring opportunity in the 16th minute. The Bavarians took advantage eventually and went 1-0 up late in the first half thanks to Thomas Muller. A rampant Bayern then struck four more times against 10-man Besiktas in the second-half. Goals from Kingsley...
Bayern Munich's Twitter Account Finds Another Way to Troll Arsenal About the Champions League
​Bayern Munich produced a strong display to ​beat Besiktas 5-0 at home in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie. The away side suffered an early blow when Domagoj Vida got a straight red for denying Robert Lewandowski a goal scoring opportunity in the 16th minute. The Bavarians took advantage eventually and went 1-0 up late in the first half thanks to Thomas Muller. A rampant Bayern then struck four more times against 10-man Besiktas in the second-half. Goals from Kingsley...
​Bayern Munich produced a strong display to ​beat Besiktas 5-0 at home in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie. The away side suffered an early blow when Domagoj Vida got a straight red for denying Robert Lewandowski a goal scoring opportunity in the 16th minute. The Bavarians took advantage eventually and went 1-0 up late in the first half thanks to Thomas Muller. A rampant Bayern then struck four more times against 10-man Besiktas in the second-half. Goals from Kingsley...
Bayern Munich's Twitter Account Finds Another Way to Troll Arsenal About the Champions League
​Bayern Munich produced a strong display to ​beat Besiktas 5-0 at home in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie. The away side suffered an early blow when Domagoj Vida got a straight red for denying Robert Lewandowski a goal scoring opportunity in the 16th minute. The Bavarians took advantage eventually and went 1-0 up late in the first half thanks to Thomas Muller. A rampant Bayern then struck four more times against 10-man Besiktas in the second-half. Goals from Kingsley...
​Bayern Munich produced a strong display to ​beat Besiktas 5-0 at home in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie. The away side suffered an early blow when Domagoj Vida got a straight red for denying Robert Lewandowski a goal scoring opportunity in the 16th minute. The Bavarians took advantage eventually and went 1-0 up late in the first half thanks to Thomas Muller. A rampant Bayern then struck four more times against 10-man Besiktas in the second-half. Goals from Kingsley...
Bayern Munich's Twitter Account Finds Another Way to Troll Arsenal About the Champions League
​Bayern Munich produced a strong display to ​beat Besiktas 5-0 at home in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie. The away side suffered an early blow when Domagoj Vida got a straight red for denying Robert Lewandowski a goal scoring opportunity in the 16th minute. The Bavarians took advantage eventually and went 1-0 up late in the first half thanks to Thomas Muller. A rampant Bayern then struck four more times against 10-man Besiktas in the second-half. Goals from Kingsley...
​Bayern Munich&#39;s stunning 5-0 demolition of Besiktas in the Champions League has all but confirmed their passage to the quarter finals already. The Bundesliga giants thrashed their Turkish counterparts at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday in the first leg of their last-16 tie, and will feel extremely confident about their chances of making it to the last eight. The Bavarians have been on an incredible run of form since Jupp Heynckes replaced Carlo Ancelotti in the dugout back in September, and the...
It's Muller Time: Bayern Forward the Talisman as Stats Highlight Incredible Winning Run
​Bayern Munich's stunning 5-0 demolition of Besiktas in the Champions League has all but confirmed their passage to the quarter finals already. The Bundesliga giants thrashed their Turkish counterparts at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday in the first leg of their last-16 tie, and will feel extremely confident about their chances of making it to the last eight. The Bavarians have been on an incredible run of form since Jupp Heynckes replaced Carlo Ancelotti in the dugout back in September, and the...
​Bayern Munich&#39;s stunning 5-0 demolition of Besiktas in the Champions League has all but confirmed their passage to the quarter finals already. The Bundesliga giants thrashed their Turkish counterparts at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday in the first leg of their last-16 tie, and will feel extremely confident about their chances of making it to the last eight. The Bavarians have been on an incredible run of form since Jupp Heynckes replaced Carlo Ancelotti in the dugout back in September, and the...
It's Muller Time: Bayern Forward the Talisman as Stats Highlight Incredible Winning Run
​Bayern Munich's stunning 5-0 demolition of Besiktas in the Champions League has all but confirmed their passage to the quarter finals already. The Bundesliga giants thrashed their Turkish counterparts at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday in the first leg of their last-16 tie, and will feel extremely confident about their chances of making it to the last eight. The Bavarians have been on an incredible run of form since Jupp Heynckes replaced Carlo Ancelotti in the dugout back in September, and the...
Bayern Munich made a grave error in allowing Toni Kroos to leave for Real Madrid, according to Matthias Sammer.
Mistake to let Kroos leave Bayern for Madrid - Sammer
Bayern Munich made a grave error in allowing Toni Kroos to leave for Real Madrid, according to Matthias Sammer.
Bayern Munich&#39;s Thomas Muller celebrates scoring their third goal REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski
Champions League Round of 16 First Leg - Bayern Munich vs Besiktas
Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller celebrates scoring their third goal REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski
FILE PHOTO - Soccer Football - Champions League - Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - September 27, 2017 Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti reacts REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Champions League - Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich
FILE PHOTO - Soccer Football - Champions League - Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - September 27, 2017 Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti reacts REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Soccer Football - Champions League Round of 16 First Leg - Bayern Munich vs Besiktas - Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany - February 20, 2018 Bayern Munich&#39;s Thomas Muller celebrates scoring their third goal REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski
Champions League Round of 16 First Leg - Bayern Munich vs Besiktas
Soccer Football - Champions League Round of 16 First Leg - Bayern Munich vs Besiktas - Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany - February 20, 2018 Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller celebrates scoring their third goal REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski
Thomas Muller is capable of scoring out of nothing, according to Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes.
Out of nothing he can score goals – Heynckes hails Muller
Thomas Muller is capable of scoring out of nothing, according to Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes.

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