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Manchester City earn Guardiola’s praise for avoiding Treble hangover

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Pep Guardiola said Manchester City’s 4-4 draw at Chelsea was proof that his team have not gone “soft” after winning the Treble last season, despite conceding three lead on three occasions at Stamford Bridge.

A 95th minute penalty scored by Cole Palmer, who joined Chelsea in a £40m transfer from City in September, sealed a point for Mauricio Pochettino’s side to extend their revival under the former Tottenham Hotspur and Paris Saint-Germain coach.

But although City uncharacteristically failed to close out a game after repeatedly being in a winning position, they go into the international break with a one point lead over Liverpool — their next opponents — at the top of the Premier League.

And Guardiola said that his side have shown that they have not dropped their standards since winning the Treble.

“We are top of the league and qualified in the Champions League,” Guardiola said. “From where we have come from [last season], when you can have the tendency to be more soft, it is the complete opposite. It hasn’t happened.

“If you expect come here and win 7-0, you are wrong. Everyone want to beat us. You say there is nothing to lose for them because if Chelsea lose to City, it’s normal, City are a fantastic team.

“But it isn’t normal. Chelsea has always been a tough place to come to, ever since I have been here in England. Chelsea is Chelsea, one of the best teams of the last 25 years, so to come here and not lose is a good result. It is a fair result.

Man City players celebrate after scoring a goal against Chelsea in the Premier League. Getty Images
“And Chelsea will be there, in future seasons they will be there. They have built for that.”

City midfielder Rodri, whose deflected goal had put Guardiola’s side 4-3 ahead in the 86th minute, said the game had left he and teammates “exhausted.”

“We feel a bit exhausted,” Rodri told Sky Sports. “This type of game, we know how hard it is to come here. The team Chelsea has built, they have great players and they sign massive players.

“The level of the Chelsea team has risen and it was not our best performance today. Individually we needed to do a bit more ourselves — to concede four goals is not normal for us.

“We keep pushing and sometimes it is like this and you have to score at the other end. But we have to correct some mistakes.

“I think we played how they want. Quick transitions and they are a better team in that situation and they are faster and stronger we have another type of players and we try to play our game and I think we struggled.”

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European Leagues

Tella Helps Leverkusen Break Bayern’s Record After Win Against Mainz

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Nathan Tella was in action for Bayer Leverkusen who secured a hard fought 2-1 win against Mainz in the Bundesliga on Friday night.

Tella came on in the 83rd minute and helped Leverkusen hold on to their lead and claim the three points.

His Nigerian teammate Victor Boniface is still out with injury.

The win means Leverkusen stretched its lead to 11 points over champions Bayern Munich in the league table.

Also, Xabi Alonso’s men set a German record of 33 games unbeaten across all competitions.

Former Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka fired Leverkusen into a third-minute lead, after letting fly from outside the penalty area for his first goal on his 31st appearance for the club.

But Dominik Kohr replied for the visitors with a header at the other end four minutes later.

In the 68th minute Leverkusen went 2-1 up thanks to Robert Andrich’s harmless-looking shot which Mainz keeper failed to hold.

With 10 minutes left Mainz were reduced to 10 men when Jessic Ngankam was sent off after a VAR check for a dangerous tackle on Xhaka.

Bayern Munich could reduce the 11-point gap to eight if they beat Leipzig on Saturday.

Meanwhile, 11 rounds of fixtures would remain after this weekend.

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If I score, I won’t celebrate it – says Ramos ahead of Real Madrid clash

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Sergio Ramos will return to the Santiago Bernabeu for the first time since he left Real Madrid in 2021 to join PSG, when he lines up for Sevilla on Sunday.

The veteran defender won five La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues in his 16-year spell at Real, scoring 101 goals in 671 appearances.

Ramos, back at boyhood club Sevilla, says he will not celebrate if he scores.

“I wouldn’t celebrate but if I happen to score and it was enough for us to win I would be delighted, those three points would be very good for us,” Ramos told the La Liga website.

Ramos is aware of the difficulty of the match for Sevilla against the league leaders, Real Madrid, who approach the game after drawing in Vallecas and having a week without matches.

“Real Madrid is always the favorite to win everything. They’re in a good moment, leading the league, and have players of extraordinary magnitude and quality. We know very well the ground we’re going to step on, and we’ll try in one way or another to have a good game there,” he said.

he recalled how close they were in the first leg at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán. “We played Madrid head-to-head, we had chances to win. Kepa made a very good save from my header that would have given us the victory. When the team is compact, we’re all together, we play with good intensity, and we press high, we’re a guerrilla team.”

Ramos didn’t reveal his plans for next season, proud of the decision he made to return to Sevilla after his adventure at PSG.

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Pep Guardiola admits Kevin De Bruyne is not ’100 per cent’

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The Belgian international sat out City’s 1-0 win over Brentford on Tuesday as the 32-year-old had some niggles. Ahead of Saturday’s trip to Bournemouth, Guardiola revealed De Bruyne “did not feel comfortable” playing against the Bees, but he is very likely to be in the squad for the clash against the Cherries.

The Spaniard told reporters on Friday: “He’s [De Bruyne] good – not injured. He’s better. I don’t know if he is 100 per cent but we took a good decision to not take a risk, apart from the result, if the result was not good, people would ask why he didn’t play. He didn’t feel comfortable.

“We have training at 4pm [Friday]. The day after the game he didn’t train and yesterday everyone was off, but he trained by himself. Today [Friday] we will assess. I am sure he will travel.”

City are still in the hunt for a second-straight treble (Champions League, FA Cup, Premier League) despite appearing to be at a lower level to where they were at this point last season. For much of the campaign they have been without the influential midfielder due to injury but when he is fit he makes a huge difference. Therefore, managing his minutes is key.

After City take on Andoni Iraola’s Bournemouth this weekend, Guardiola’s side travel to Luton Town in round five of the FA Cup on Tuesday. They then host rivals Manchester United on March 3 in the Premier League.

 

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