Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Claudio has a strong personality – Guardiola backs Bravo response to City axe

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 3 Feb 2017

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Pep Guardiola believes Claudio Bravo has reacted strongly to being dropped from the Manchester City starting XI.

Willy Caballero started a Premier League game for the first time since Bravo moved to the Etihad Stadium from Barcelona in August when City thrashed West Ham 4-0 at London Stadium.

Two-time LaLiga and Copa America winner Bravo has failed to convince from a debut error in September’s 2-1 Manchester derby win onwards and conceded from each of the past six top-flight attempts on his goal before being taken out of the firing line in midweek.

By contrast, Caballero is yet to concede in his three 2017 appearances across all competitions and the 35-year-old Argentine is likely to keep his spot for Sunday’s home match against Swansea City, even though Guardiola told a pre-match news conference he was yet to make a final decision.

“I talked to [Bravo] beforehand and he understood. I felt that Willy should play,” the City boss said.

“Of course confidence is important but I still have the same confidence in Willy and Claudio, but I thought it was time to play with Willy.

“I’ll choose depending on how I see them.

“[Bravo] is a huge professional. He is not a young guy – he has a lot of experience.

“One of the biggest qualities of Claudio is a strong personality. If he wasn’t he couldn’t play as Chile captain and win the Copa America; playing in teams like Barcelona where the pressure there is 1,000 times higher than here and play there without any problem.”

Swansea head to Manchester buoyed by back-to-back wins over Liverpool and Southampton that have lifted them out of the relegation zone.

Guardiola believes the influence of recently appointed head coach Paul Clement, formerly number two to Carlo Ancelotti at Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, is clearly evident and he expects a tough test.

“I am really impressed. I saw the game against Liverpool and this morning I started to see the game against Southampton,” he said.

“I am trying to discover the way we can attack them and, wow, I cannot find it. It is so complicated.

“When I see their games, I see his hands in his teams. They are so well organised, there is no space between the lines and no space in the middle.

“When you attack out wide they defend the box really well. They can go to [Fernando] Llorente with the long balls and they have quality players for the counter-attack.

“It will be a real tough, tough game. I think one of the toughest games we can expect until the end of the season will be on Sunday.

“Now they are in a good moment. They won in Anfield and against Southampton – not against normal teams.”

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