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World Cup 2018

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Home Sport Football

Guardiola confident ‘exceptional’ Man City can produce Champions League comeback

City trail 3-0 after first leg of Champions League tie.

Pep Guardiola believes his “exceptional” Manchester City side can pull off one of the great Champions League comebacks by producing the perfect game against Liverpool.

City need to overturn a 3-0 aggregate deficit in the second leg of their quarter-final at the Etihad Stadium but Guardiola is confident despite a dismal past week.

City’s humbling in the first leg at Anfield last Wednesday was followed by another capitulation as they surrendered a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to rivals Manchester United in their derby on Saturday.

Both games saw the normally dominant City exposed and concede three goals in periods of less than 20 minutes. The latter loss also shattered City’s hopes of wrapping up the Premier League title with a record six games remaining.

That has arguably made the past six days the most disappointing of Guardiola’s reign but he remains upbeat and is determined to fight to the end to continue the European run.

“My team is extraordinary,” said Guardiola at his pre-match press conference. “My team is not comparable to many others. It is top. My team is exceptional.

“It is a joy to be manager of that team, even two days ago, after the way we played. I am so delighted.

“Of course to go through you have to make almost the perfect game, to create a lot of chances, be clinical, concede few chances. And the chances we are going to receive – our keeper needs to save them. All the conditions have to be perfect to go through.”

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City beat Liverpool 5-0 in September

The game will be the fourth meeting between the two sides this season.

City triumphed 5-0 last time they met at the Etihad Stadium in September but the Reds won 4-3 in their second Premier League meeting at Anfield in January.

Guardiola said: “We know each other. Maybe we will be closer to beating them.

“We cannot forget it is a simple game – just focus on every single minute. That is the best way to play. If we concede a goal, don’t give up.”

City are set to have striker Sergio Aguero back in their starting line-up for the first time in more than a month after overcoming a knee injury.

The match also sees referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz return to the Etihad Stadium. The Spaniard was in charge of the last-16 first leg clash against Monaco last season and was criticised by Guardiola for not awarding City a penalty shortly before the visitors took a 2-1 lead. City recovered to win that game 5-3 but lost the tie.

He also awarded Napoli two penalties when they met City in the group stages earlier this season.

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