Guardiola warns Man City 'to be careful' as United eye cup comeback

By Sports Desk January 28, 2020

Pep Guardiola has urged his Manchester City players to keep their cool in the heat of Wednesday's derby against Manchester United as they bid to seal a place in the EFL Cup final.

Armed with a 3-1 lead from the first leg at Old Trafford, City approach the return fixture in the semi-final as firm favourites to reach the March 1 showpiece at Wembley.

However, City know all too well how potent United can be on their day, having suffered a home league defeat to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men in December.

Guardiola vowed he and his team have never been complacent, and he is optimistic that attitude will be enough to deliver an aggregate success.

"It's Man United. They can do it and have done it," Guardiola said. "In this kind of game, against this kind of team, with this incredible history, they have pride and I know, I know how difficult it would be to reach the final."

Speaking about the need to concentrate against neighbours who have endured a difficult Premier League campaign so far, Guardiola indicated he trusted his players to bring the right application.

"Never was my team complacent during four years - never," he said. "We have to be careful about their skills, we have to be careful about the counter-attack, we have to be careful about the set-pieces, we have to be careful about how good they can play if we let them play.

"We will have to defend. They don't have anything to lose so they are going to attack. We will have to control our emotions. We have to try to score goals."

Asked about possible squad rotation, a fired-up Guardiola stressed managers should be allowed to select their teams as they feel appropriate.

That issue has picked up traction in the wake of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp saying it would be the club's under-23 side that face Shrewsbury in their FA Cup fourth-round replay at Anfield, given the first team will be taking their mid-season break.

"Listen," Guardiola began. "We accept the schedules, the competitions, the games every two or three days, but don't tell the managers which selections you have to choose, please. It's our job."

City have a doubt over centre-back Aymeric Laporte but are expected to field a strong side, being eager to give United no hint of weakness.

They could have won by a greater margin at Old Trafford in the first leg, when Red Devils boss Solskjaer said City's strong line-up was a sign of their "respect" for United.

Guardiola said in Tuesday's news conference: "I show respect for my opponents from day one, from when I started with the second team at Barcelona to today, sat in front of you here.

"I took that selection (at Old Trafford) and tomorrow I will take another selection."

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    - Romano says Wolves will complete the signing of Barcelona full-back Nelson Semedo on Monday. It comes as Barca eye Ajax defender Sergino Dest or Real Betis' Emerson to replace Semedo. Norwich City's Max Aarons has also been linked.

    Milan have made Fiorentina's Nikola Milenkovic their number one defensive target ahead of Celtic centre-back Kristoffer Ajer, reports the Daily Record.

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    Napoli head coach Gennaro Gattuso acknowledged Kalidou Koulibaly is likely to leave the Serie A club but he would be happy to keep the star defender.

    Koulibaly has been strongly linked with Premier League giants Manchester City and Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain as Napoli look to raise funds following the club-record signing of Victor Osimhen.

    The 29-year-old Koulibaly played as Napoli opened their 2020-21 Serie A season with a 2-0 win at Parma on Sunday and Gattuso hailed the in-demand centre-back, who has also reportedly attracted interest from Manchester United.

    "I had no doubts, he is one of the strongest champions in the world in his role," Gattuso said via Sky Sport.

    "He has always given me great availability and always trains well. I would be sorry to lose him, both for the man and for the player.

    "But you know that numbers are important for clubs and at this moment something needs to be done for numbers, but I'd be happy to keep him."

    Osimhen made his debut for Napoli, coming off the bench to inspire the visitors as Dries Mertens and captain Lorenzo Insigne scored against Parma.

    Gattuso added: "It's not about numbers, but the principles of football. We know Osimhen is an added bonus, but we need to run before we have quality, because quality is not enough on its own.

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    He had earlier hit the crossbar and came close from a couple of his other nine efforts prior to finally finding a way past Emil Audero in the 88th minute.

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    "We are thinking about it and we have talked about it together," he told Sky Sport Italia. "He is not tired at the moment because we have just started the season. But when we come up to less important games, we'll try to give him a rest. 

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    Juve sporting director Fabio Paratici confirmed ahead of kick-off that Barcelona's Luis Suarez is no longer an option in the club's search for a new striker.

    With Paulo Dybala missing the opening game through injury and Gonzalo Higuain finalising a move to Inter Miami on Friday, Pirlo is after a particular type of player to bolster his side.

    "We'll give it our best. It's about finding the right balance," he said. "Quality players are always welcome, as long as they have the characteristics to bring balance to the team. But we want to use as much of our talent as possible."

    Debutant midfielder Dejan Kulusevski netted the first goal of Pirlo's tenure and Leonardo Bonucci was also on target in Turin prior to Ronaldo's clinical finish late on.

    Weston McKennie is another who impressed on his first appearance since joining, while Gianluca Frabotta – a surprise starter at left wing-back – also caught the eye.

    "Frabotta had a good game. Alex Sandro picked up an injury, so I chose the under-23 lad who is training with us very well," Pirlo said. "I didn't consider it a risk at all to use him.

    "McKennie arrived having started pre-season training in Germany, so was in better shape than some others. He made a few errors in his passing, but it was the first game, we can forgive him for that."

    Pirlo has worked under some of the game's most influential coaches but vowed to do things his own way in his first managerial job.

    "It will take time to get all the various ways of playing together. I don't want to just copy and paste anyone's ideas," he said. "I have my own ideas and want to adapt from the teams that inspired me.

    "We haven't had much time, as the pre-season started late and then they were away for international duty. We had only one friendly too, but it was a good debut and we'll keep working on it."

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