Guardiola never expected City to thump Leipzig

3 months ago by Score Titans
Pep Guardiola was pleased with what he saw despite some people expecting straightforward victory for Manchester City at RB Leipzig

Pep Guardiola hit out at suggestions Manchester City were expected to comfortably defeat RB Leipzig after a frustrating 1-1 draw in their Champions League last-16 clash.

Riyad Mahrez fired City into a 27th-minute lead on Wednesday at the Red Bull Arena, with City utterly dominant in the first period of the first leg in Germany.

But Guardiola's visitors did not capitalise on their control as Leipzig fought back after the interval and Josko Gvardiol secured a share of the spoils ahead of the March 14 return clash at Etihad Stadium.

Marco Rose's side are fifth in Bundesliga and had not scored a goal in three previous Champions League knockout clashes, though Guardiola refused claims a comfortable victory at Leipzig was always on the cards.

The City manager told BT Sport: "People expect we are going to win 5-0, that's not a reality. It is past the group stage in a very competitive competition and many important teams around.

"It is difficult, we knew this, our fourth game in 10 days, the away games, the travels and the people expect [wins]…

"I know we are a good team, and we continue to do good things. But people expect we come here and win 4 or 5-0, we are not able to do this."

The opening 45 minutes were in stark contrast for what was to follow, with City boasting 74 per cent possession and only conceding one shot on target in the first half – a timid Timo Werner effort at Ederson.

Guardiola's side managed just a 49.2 per cent share of the ball in the second half, facing six shots, as substitute Benjamin Henrichs spurned a pair of glorious opportunities.

Former Bayern Munich and Barcelona boss Guardiola insisted he was "happy" with the entire performance, however.

"They make a step forward, they pressed everyone high up, more problems in the build-up," he said when asked about the second half.

"After the goal we conceded, we came back – we made a good last 15, 20 minutes. We had good chances, both sides in both halves, and now we go back to Manchester to decide it."

Pressed on the drop in performance levels, a somewhat irked Guardiola added: "I'm happy for the whole game, not just the first half. What do you expect? We play a friendly game here?"

Despite Leipzig growing in confidence as the final whistle drew closer, Guardiola opted to make no substitutions throughout.

That was the first instance of no changes from a team during a Champions League match since Jose Mourinho did so with Manchester United against Juventus in October 2018.

But Guardiola remained confident with his decision, albeit admitting he considered introducing Phil Foden.

"I saw the team good, especially in the middle," he continued. "I thought about Phil, but at the end I decided to continue with what I had.

"Bernardo [Silva] was giving a lot of control and I thought we could win it."