Pep Guardiola has expressed ‘confidence’ that Manchester City will have their Champions League ban lifted and can compete in next season’s competition.
The result of City’s appeal against a two-year Uefa sentence will be known this month and could have repercussions on signing new players and keeping existing stars like Kevin de Bruyne.
City deny any wrongdoing connected with financial fairplay regulations and following Thursday’s impressive 4-0 victory against Liverpool, Guardiola seems optimistic the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) will rule in their favour, and is working on transfer targets on that basis.
Pep Guardiola is confident that Manchester City’s Champions League ban will be lifted
The club are set to find out their fate later this month as they face a two-year exodus
‘We are ready. I have lot of confidence and trust with people that we will be allowed to be in the Champions League next year,’ said the City boss.
‘Of course we want to be there and on 13 July we will know the resolution so all the workers here, the players, the staff, the whole club can continue growing over the next few years.’
City want to try and spend this summer to close the 20-point gap on Liverpool and have money in the bank following the £45million sale of Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich with John Stones among others who could be on the way out.
Not being the Champions League would harm their chances of attracting world-class players like reported £80million target Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli.
The team’s current outstanding player De Bruyne has also he indicated he would have to question his future at The Etihad if the two-year ban is upheld, though he is prepared to live without one year of Champions League football if the length of suspension is reduced.
City want to sign players in order to compete with Liverpool but ban would harm their chances
City have a chequered history with Europe’s premier club competition they are bidding to win for the first time in their history this season.
In recent years, Guardiola has been knocked out on away goals by Monaco and lost to Tottenham in last season’s quarter-final when an injury-time strike by Raheem Sterling was ruled out by VAR.
The fans have also regularly booed the Champions League anthem as a protest to what they believe is a witchhunt from Uefa, and a lack of serious action when Mario Balotelli and Yaya Toure were racially abused in separate incidents.
City beat Real Madrid 2-1 away in their last-16 first leg tie shortly before lockdown but may not get home advantage for the return game with Uefa considering holding all the remaining second legs on neutral territory in Portugal, which will then host the quarter-final onwards.
‘Don’t let me talk please,’ grimaced Guardiola when reminded of City’s poor luck in the competition and whether playing away from The Etihad would represent another curse.
‘We are incredibly excited to play against Madrid, the king of this competition, in the second leg. We would love to play here, in our city feeling close to our people, but we will go where UEFA decides. If it’s Porto, we will go there.
‘I know exactly what has happened in the last years of the Champions League when it is a competition that the details make the difference. It will always be in my memories.
‘Maybe one day we are lucky.’
City have poor luck in the last few seasons of the competition as Pep wishes they were ‘lucky’
Guardiola won the Champions League twice early in his managerial career at Barcelona but hasn’t lifted the trophy since 2011.
It is clearly the force that is driving him on this season with the Premier League surrendered to Liverpool.
One benefit of the performance against Jurgen Klopp’s team last week was that it’s given Guardiola and his players belief they can go on and become champions of Europe, even though Sergio Aguero is injured and definitely ruled out of the Madrid game on August 8.
‘When you beat opponents like Liverpool, it gives a message to ourselves, that we can do it,’ said the City boss, whose side face Southampton today (Sunday).
‘Maybe Liverpool are the best team in the world right now but I admire the way we played with incredible courage. Nobody was scared though we knew the quality of the opposition.
‘We showed we wanted to play the way we think is best, and we did it.’
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