Pep Guardiola has urged Manchester City to eradicate their avoidable ‘mistakes’ as the club finally bid to conquer Europe this season.
Guardiola’s side face record winners Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie this evening, City holding a 2-1 advantage following an impressive comeback victory in the Spanish capital back in February.
The club will be hoping to secure a positive result as they bid to progress to a quarter-final meeting with either Lyon or Juventus, with the Premier League side desperate to make an impression on Europe’s elite following an indifferent recent record in continental competition.
City have failed to progress beyond the last eight in each of Guardiola’s three previous campaigns in charge, losing to Premier League opposition in Liverpool and Tottenham in each of the past two seasons.
More worryingly for City, however, has been the manner of their Champions League exits, the club having been blown away by quick-fire bursts of goals – memorably conceding three times in the opening half-hour to Liverpool in 2018, alongside conceding clusters of goals against Monaco in 2017 and Spurs last season.
Guardiola has dominated domestically since moving to City but is yet to make progress in a competition he twice won whilst at Barcelona, and the Spaniard has warned his side must cut out their defensive lapses if they are to finally win the Champions League this season.
“Yeah definitely, more than conceding goals it’s the way we are conceding them,” Guardiola said at his pre-match press conference. “When they are brilliant [goals], and an opponent makes a good action, we accept it. But most of the goals we could avoid, and we have to avoid it.
“Making mistakes like that in this competition punishes you a lot. We know it. We’ve spoken about that not just now, in these last few weeks, but for years, many times, in important games like this. We know it and if we want to make a step forward as a team to be close to winning this competition we have to be better in this area.”