UCL Review: Spurs send City crashing out of Champions League, Liverpool through

By George Davis,Chris Taylor& Lance Whittaker April 17, 2019

Tottenham and Liverpool advanced to the semi-finals of the Champions League in high-scoring affairs on Thursday.

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  • I'm just getting started at Liverpool - Robertson I'm just getting started at Liverpool - Robertson

    Full-back Andy Robertson says he is only getting started at Liverpool and expects to improve even more in 2019-20.

    The 25-year-old joined the Reds from Hull City in 2017 and has wasted little time in establishing himself as one of the best defenders in the Premier League.

    He made 48 appearances last season as Jurgen Klopp's side finished second in the top flight with 97 points and won the Champions League.

    Robertson admits there was a steep learning curve when he joined the club, but believes he has "kicked on" over the past two seasons.

    "There has been a lot happening in a relatively short period of time but I've loved every minute of it," he told the club's official website.

    "Of course, at the start it was a lot tougher; there was still a big learning curve for me at the time to realise the standard I had to get up to and how much I had to improve to play at this level.

    "Luckily, I feel I made that step and I've kicked on from there, but I still feel I can improve a lot more and that's what I aim to do season to season.

    "Last season was a big one for me because there was a bit more expectation on me at the start because of the six months I had previously. I feel I managed to deal with that.

    "This season there'll probably be even more. I just look to add to it, keep putting in good performances and keep contributing to the team, like the manager and coaching staff want me to do."

    The Scotland international experienced an underwhelming start to life at Liverpool, making just three appearances before December in his debut campaign, and had to show patience.

    "It was tough because I was quite fortunate in the four or five years before that as a professional that I hadn't experienced not being in the team," he explained.

    "I still came in every day and worked my socks off and stuff, but probably at home my family got it a bit more than they should have. That was a huge learning curve for me.

    "I just tried to work hard, tried to learn the way the coaches wanted me to play. Luckily, I got to grips with it. I knew when my chance came, I had to try to take it – and luckily I managed that.

    "Now I look back on it with happier memories because I know that stood me in good stead. But it could have been a lot different. I'm glad it worked out the way it has."

  • Guardiola launches Manchester City defence after accusation of 'arrogance' Guardiola launches Manchester City defence after accusation of 'arrogance'

    Pep Guardiola has refuted at a "false" report from China's state-run media service which accused Manchester City of only visiting the country for financial gain.

    An English-language article published by the government-owned Xinhua News Agency took aim at the club's "arrogance" over a perceived disregard for local fans and media.

    City squared off in Premier League Asia Trophy matches against West Ham and Wolves in Nanjing and Shanghai respectively before departing for Hong Kong, where they play Kitchee on Wednesday.

    The accusations surprised Guardiola, whose attitude on the tour was cast in a negative light in comparison to the apparent "enthusiasm" of Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

    "I should say I don't agree and also that it's false," Guardiola said.

    "To make a statement like this, they have to know exactly what happened here in our club.

    "We had an incredible time in Shanghai. We were committed to the co-operation you have to do here in China. The people from the hotel, all the people asking us to do things – we were ready to do that.

    "That's why I can't understand what people are saying.

    "Maybe one journalist is a bit upset, I don't know why, but it's far away from the reality."

    City's original itinerary involved two additional days in China which were lost to delays flying out of Manchester.

    "For our club it's a huge experience to go abroad to other countries because we are not Manchester United, Liverpool, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich," Guardiola said. "They've been doing it for many years.

    "For us it's a new experience every season, it will help on the pitch and we did it last season. And off the pitch we are showing what an amazing club we are and how we are trying to be better every season.

    "I'm so proud of what we've done. All the marketing departments, all the people who've organised this tour.

    "And maybe next year or in two years we are going to come back to China when the club decides we should come."

  • Liverpool star Van Dijk dreams of Ballon d'Or victory Liverpool star Van Dijk dreams of Ballon d'Or victory

    Virgil van Dijk admits winning the Ballon d'Or after an exceptional season with Liverpool would be a dream come true.

    No defender has claimed the award since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006, the year he lifted the World Cup with Italy, but centre-back Van Dijk is a strong contender to break the drought.

    The 28-year-old shone as Liverpool won the Champions League last season and was crowned PFA Players' Player of the Year for his part in helping the Reds finish second in the Premier League.

    Already a revered figure at Anfield, Van Dijk could become the club's second Ballon d'Or recipient after Michael Owen in 2001.

    "If people are talking about it - you can't say it doesn't [excite you]," Van Dijk told Sky Sports.

    "But it's a subject we don't have any influence on. I can't change anything right now other than get fit, stay fit and that's the situation.

    "Winning something like that is a dream come true for every footballer in the world. If you don't then you just get on with it and try to perform better than last year.

    "It would be fantastic and I would be very proud.

    "But the main thing will be to focus on what we do all together and achieving the bigger goal - that's getting silverware with the club."

    Van Dijk and Liverpool are in the United States for pre-season ahead of another gruelling campaign.

    The European champions must contend with the usual domestic and Champions League commitments along with a trip to Qatar for the Club World Cup in December.

    Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp views the demands on modern players, including regular international matches and tournaments, as unsustainable.

    "It looks like nobody can imagine a week without football in the year," Klopp told reporters.

    "When did that happen? A game again, a game again.

    "It is difficult for the boys. Everything will be fine this season, but in the long term we have to change it. There must be breaks.

    "Come on, let them go. Be brave. Don't treat every game like it is the last of a decade."

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