Pep Guardiola pumped up for Champions League return

21 February 2017 07:39

Pep Guardiola is fired up by the return of the Champions League.

Guardiola's Manchester City side resume their challenge in Europe's elite competition as they host Monaco in the first leg of their last-16 tie tonight.

The Spaniard won the competition twice with Barcelona and took Bayern Munich to three successive semi-finals, and thrives on the intensity of its knockout stages.

He said: "All of Europe will watch us, to analyse us, to kill us if we don't win or say how good we are if we do win. That is the huge experience. It is beautiful to me."

He added: "It is one of the most beautiful competitions to play. Maybe not the most important, but the most beautiful."

Monaco are expected to provide a stern test having taken charge of the Ligue 1 title race ahead of a Paris Saint-Germain side that thrashed Barcelona last week.

Leonardo Jardim's side have impressed with a fast counter-attacking game that has yielded 76 goals in 26 league games.

Guardiola said: "Like a spectator it is so nice to see them. I am really impressed how good they are.

"We are looking forward to playing against them. Just compliments (to them) because they are a really good team."

Radamel Falcao, who struggled to make an impact in spells at Manchester United and Chelsea, has been Monaco's chief spearhead with 19 goals to his name this season. A number of other players are tipped to become big stars of the future, including defender Fabinho, central midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko and wingers Bernardo Silva and Kylian Mbappe.

City recognise the need to take the game to the highly-regarded visitors.

Forward Kevin De Bruyne said: "We're going to do what we always do. We have our own style and we won't change.

"That's our strength and ultimately we're going to play the way that we want to play, put Monaco under perssure.

"We know it's not going to be easy, it's going to be difficult, but we'll be doing our best to impose our game."

City manager Pep Guardiola said on Monday he had not yet decided whether Claudio Bravo or Willy Caballero would start in goal. Caballero had played four games in succession before Bravo returned for Saturday's FA Cup fifth-round tie at Huddersfield.

Captain Vincent Kompany is still troubled by his latest leg injury and will not feature.

Source: PA


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