Pep Guardiola press conference: Man City boss on Fernandinho, Rodri in defence and why Champions League

Pep Guardiola press conference: Man City boss on Fernandinho, Rodri in defence and why Champions League
Football

Pep Guardiola has suggested Manchester City midfielder Rodri could start at centre-back for their Champions League clash against Dinamo Zagreb.

City face the Croatian side at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night as they look to build on their easy win over Shakhtar Donetsk on matchday one.

Rodri may play alongside Nicolas Otamendi in defence

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Rodri may play alongside Nicolas Otamendi in defence

The Citizens ran out 3-1 winners against Everton in the Premier League last weekend in a difficult game at Goodison Park.

One reason it was so difficult is because City are in the midst of a defensive crisis, with Nicolas Otamendi the only out and out centre-back available as John Stones and Aymeric Laporte are injured.

Fernandinho has been stepping in to partner Otamendi but due to the Brazilian being 34 years old, Guardiola hinted he could rest him and even play Rodri there instead.

Here’s everything he had to say about all of that, plus more…

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On Fernandinho’s fitness

“If he feels fit he can play [two games in a week]. It depends on his regeneration after games.

“When John [Stones] comes back we can make an alternative, now we have young alternatives and Rodri can play there.

“Last season he [Fernandinho] started to struggle a little bit but the season before he played every game.”

On whether Nicolas Otamendi starting every game is best for him

“No. Nico [ Nicolas Otamendi] has an incredible quality but one finger broken he plays. He is a huge competitor.

“Last season I spoke to him he played in the first part of the season a lot but we had Laporte in the left side with his special quality and the right side we had John, Nico and Vinny [Vincent Kompany].

“Vinny was incredible. My opinion of him remains the same. He’s better on the right because he is right-footed.”

Otamendi is City’s only out and out fit centre-back

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Otamendi is City’s only out and out fit centre-back

On whether young defenders Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Eric Garcia could start

“They can play. They are here and they can play. They have moments where we can use them, I have no doubts about that.

“Taylor is quite good with the ball but likes to win duels and fight long balls and Eric is so clever, his build-up and quality of the pass, what is going on he is top. They are there because they can – after that, it depends on selection.”

On the importance of the Champions League

“I think in my first press conference in my first year here in Manchester before the Champions League game it was the same question.

“I said I spoke with Khaldoon [Al Mubarak] and he didn’t tell me I was here to win the Champions League, it was to consider a project that had been started and see how far we get.

“The people want to win it, the fans want to win it too. Without their environment at home we cannot do it, it is impossible without that feeling that we want to do it. We are going to try.

“We are going to try again. I will be happier but if I don’t do it next year we are going to try again.”

The Champions League is the only major trophy that has eluded Guardiola as City manager

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The Champions League is the only major trophy that has eluded Guardiola as City manager

On whether winning the Champions League is the next step for Manchester City

“Yeah, definitely but sometimes it cannot be possible. Sometimes you take a few years, sometimes you take longer.

“Barcelona is my club in my heart and won their first one in 1992. Of course I will try but I won’t live the next ten months thinking it will be a disaster if I don’t win the Champions League.”