Pep Guardiola wants Man City to be brave in hunt for vital away goals
Pep Guardiola has told Manchester City to kill Monaco with away goals on Wednesday night to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League. City have a 5-3 lead from a compelling first leg at the Etihad Stadium, but Guardiola said that it would be a "huge mistake" for his players to sit on that lead and see it out.
Both of these teams are better going forward than they are at the back, and the evidence of the first leg is that John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi cannot handle Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappe when they get going. So rather than trying to paper over that weakness, Guardiola told City to play to their strengths against "the best team in the world at scoring goals". Even if that means another high-scoring shoot-out at the Stade Louis II.
"It would be a huge mistake to think about what we have done and not think about what we have to do," said Guardiola. "They are a top, top team."
Monaco are the best attacking team in Europe this year with a brilliant 84 goals in the usually low-scoring Ligue 1 so far, leaving them on course for 110 and the French title this year. With Bernardo Silva and Valere Germain creating chances for the strikers, as well as two explosive full-backs bombing on, they will keep causing City problems.
"When you play a team that has scored 123 goals and you think to defend, then you kill yourself," said Guardiola.
"The best way to defend is to attack. I don't know another way. They don't attack with five, they attack with six guys. They are physically strong and fast in short spaces. They are the best team in the world at scoring goals."
Some managers would set their team to defend deep and play on the counter-attack but that is not the Guardiola way, and he can point to the 2009 and 2011 Champions League titles as proof that his methods work in Europe. So he wants City to dominate possession, keep the ball off Monaco, and score away goals to give them too much to do.
Guardiola warned that City will be knocked out if they lose 2-0, 3-1 or 4-2, but said that was an argument for them to come out, not to shut up shop.
Ultimately, City cannot hope to rely on keeping it right, but they can hope to score enough to make Monaco's task impossible.
"Monaco are able to score from many different ways," Guardiola said.
"The best way is to score goals and attack as much as possible. I want to see a team daring from the first minute to win the game. It's the only way to beat a team like this."
- Monaco v Manchester City, Champions League Round of 16, Second Leg, Stade Louis II, Tonight, 7.45pm