Belfast Telegraph

Celtic v Man City Champions League: Fernandinho warning for City on eve of Celtic clash

By Mark Staniforth

Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho has warned his Manchester City side to beware a Celtic backlash ahead of their UEFA Champions League clash in Glasgow tomorrow.

City head north on the back of 10 straight wins under Pep Guardiola and are rated strong favourites to heap more continental woe on Brendan Rodgers’ men after their 7-0 mauling by Barcelona earlier this month.

But according to Fernandinho, City — who by contrast started their campaign with a 4-0 breeze against Borussia Monchengladbach — must tread carefully to avoid embarrassment of their own.

He said: “Of course they (Celtic) had a painful defeat for themselves and their fans, but maybe that’s one of the reasons they will step on the pitch with a lot more concentration, motivated to win this game.

“So we will have to be very careful and stay very focused to not allow that to happen.”

City and Barcelona have inevitably been installed as strong favourites to progress from Group C, but Fernandinho believes the outcome of the four-team league is far from certain.

He added: “I think sometimes people say that City and Barcelona are the favourites, but I don’t agree because Borussia are an excellent team and Celtic are an excellent team as well, especially when they play at home.

“The Champions League is always special, you always have to be careful, you always have to think that you cannot make mistakes — there’s no relaxing, otherwise you’ll pay for it.

“That’s our intention this year, to play 100% concentrated, the way we have been playing, and try to win these games which are really important to us.”

The Brazilian has flourished more than most under Guardiola’s early guidance, transforming into a pivotal member of the City midfield during their perfect start to the new campaign.

And his presence will remain even more of a boost for Guardiola in the absence of Kevin De Bruyne, who limped out of Saturday’s 3-1 win at Swansea with a hamstring injury.

City are yet to release precise details of De Bruyne’s condition but he is reportedly set to spend up to four weeks on the sidelines, meaning he may struggle to be back for City’s next Champions League fixture in Barcelona next month.

Meanwhile, midfielder Brahim Diaz has signed his first professional contract with City after making his debut as a substitute in the League Cup win at Swansea.

The 17-year-old joined City from Malaga in 2015, and until his sudden promotion had been playing for their under-18 and Premier League 2 sides.

Diaz said: “I couldn’t be happier signing my first professional contract with City.

“It’s a dream for me and a big moment. I want to keep that dream going and hopefully I will get more opportunities to train with the first team.”

• Graeme Souness has urged Rangers to broker a peace deal with Joey Barton.

The controversial 34-year-old — reportedly earning more than £20,000 a week — has said consistently since being banished from the club that he has no plans to quit Ibrox, and Souness reckons he could still offer the Light Blues the kind of experience they will need to turn around their flailing fortunes.

He said: “Joey has played at a high level, he’s played in the Premier League.

“We were doing some TV work for the Euros together in Dublin during the summer. When he spoke about football he was very, very knowledgeable.

“Rangers do have a young team and they would need that help from senior players.”

Souness added: “I am a great believer in football clubs — you’ve only got a chance of doing well when you have good senior pros.

“Do I hope it does get resolved? Most certainly because he has something to offer.”

Belfast Telegraph


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