Pep Guardiola stuck to his guns over Manchester City’s approach in their 1-0 Champions League quarter-final loss to Tottenham.
Ilkay Gundogan told Sky Deutschland that City had not been “brave enough” and made too many “simple mistakes” in a game where Son Heung-min scored the only goal after 78 minutes.
The midfielder felt it was in keeping with other “nervous” Champions League displays that mean City are not yet a “big team”.
Gundogan started at the base of the midfield alongside Fernandinho, inverting City’s usual midfield triangle to take a more controlled approach to the contest.
It might have paid off had Sergio Aguero not had a first-half penalty saved and, speaking ahead of Sunday’s Premier League trip to Crystal Palace, Guardiola remained broadly satisfied with a performance he would not rank alongside some of the more dramatic knockout-stage collapses he and City have suffered in Europe’s leading club competition.
“I think I do not agree with him, absolutely not,” he said. “When we conceded a goal, nothing happened.
“The second half was under control except the first five minutes.
“We were there many, many times. We did not create too much but we were there. After we conceded a goal nothing happened.
“In other games, that was completely true. Like in Schalke, where we were winning 1-0 and in five minutes we conceded two.
“Our game at Tottenham was much better than against Schalke. The difference is at Schalke, Leroy [Sane] put it in the top corner form 30 yards and at Tottenham we missed a penalty.
“We reacted quite well in both situations. After the penalty, Sergio reacted incredibly well and was mentally strong and the team was stable.”
— Ilkay Gündogan (@IlkayGuendogan) April 10, 2019
Guardiola also called for the performance to be viewed within the context of City’s relentless form over the past two seasons.
He won his first Premier League title with a 100-point haul last term and remains in contention for all four major honours this time around, having retained the EFL Cup and reached the final of the FA Cup.
“We have been incredible for the past 20 months,” Guardiola said. “We lost two games in the last 23 and the way we lost … I know how difficult it is in the Champions League, away at Tottenham and we made a good performance.
“Yesterday I reviewed the game. Sometimes when I review the games I think I was wrong when I was watching the game in the moment, but I had the same feeling as when it happened. We did quite well.”
He added: “It’s 20 months of winning every three days. We have 180 points in two seasons, with six games left. I do not agree with what Ilkay says. I like when they express what they believe.
“We thought of more of a low game, with more passes and more control to attack in the right moment. We didn’t want to concede a counter-attack, where they are stronger than us.
“We decided to play a different type of game but, in general, the game was really, really good.
“Unfortunately, we could not score a goal but have a second leg with our fans at home and we’ll be in the semi-finals.”
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