After the Blues were once again exposed on the break in the Champions League, Pep Guardiola has informed his Manchester City players that it is “not normal” to allow goals in the manner they did against Chelsea and RB Leipzig.
After the chaotic 4–4 draw at Stamford Bridge, City had improved their defence against Liverpool over the weekend. However, bad habits returned on Tuesday, as the Bundesliga side led 2-0 at halftime before Guardiola’s team rallied for a 3-2 victory and guaranteed a spot in the group stages.
Both goals were scored by Lois Openda, who broke free after Manuel Akanji and Ruben Dias lost their individual duels with the Belgian attacker. On both occasions, he beat Stefan Ortega by latching onto long balls.
It was a night when City was once again exposed on the break, and Guardiola is aware that this is a weakness they have to work on if they are to equal the success of the previous campaign.
“Today is the reality—we did not normally give up four goals against Chelsea. It is not normal.” Guardiola stated, “That didn’t happen last season.”
We discussed it; as humans and football players, it happens, but we need to do better. The choices made against Liverpool’s quick-witted players were outstanding. There are moments when I believe that we are so nervous that Ruben doesn’t need to give us the first yellow card. You must improve; today was a fortunate day.”
Though Nathan Ake replaced Dias at halftime after he was lucky to escape a second booking, Guardiola was frustrated that none of his starting centre defenders emerged victorious from their individual duels, an area in which City thrived en route to winning the treble the previous season.
“I am aware of the topic at hand. You must prevail in duels; we are not stronger than you. It was careless, with individual errors,” Guardiola remarked.
“We were solid against Chelsea, and we’ve already had two cautions, but up front, we still waste opportunities. It was pretty similar. Perhaps winning that game would help us recognise that we need to improve when we look in the mirror in the future.
Guardiola acknowledged that RB Leipzig’s five-man defence had caught him off guard and expressed disappointment in his team’s lack of effort prior to halftime. In the second half, he also turned to Julian Alvarez and Jeremy Doku, complimenting their contributions as substitutes.
“It was a positive response, with good influence from Julian and Jeremy. We added a winger to the team, Rico assisted us in playing and accomplishing our goals, and ultimately we prevailed in the match,” he remarked.
“February we will be there [in Champions League last-16], second leg will be here, show again we can make comebacks, when we score early second half 45 minutes are so long for the opponents.”