‘We want kids to go to school and that is maybe more important than people in stadiums’: Pep Guardiola keen for fans to return but only when Covid-19 is in retreat as Man City prepare to face Real Madrid in empty Etihad
- Man City pick up Champions League campaign against Real Madrid on Friday
- Pep Guardiola’s side hold a 2-1 advantage going into home leg of last-16 tie
- But game will be played at an empty Etihad with Covid-19 keeping fans away
- That will be a stark contrast to the 75,000+ at the Bernabeu back in February
- Guardiola wants to see fans return but only when it’s safe once again
Pep Guardiola wants to see fans return to football stadiums as soon as possible but only when Covid-19 is in retreat.
The Manchester City manager believes it is more important to get children back into schools before thinking about football fans coming back.
City will try to make it through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Friday night, taking a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid into the second leg.
But they’ll have to cope with an empty Etihad Stadium, in contrast to the first leg back in February when 75,615 packed the Bernabeu prior to the pandemic.
Pep Guardiola is keen to see fans return to stadiums but only when the Covid-19 danger is over
Kevin de Bruyne celebrates after scoring City’s winner in the Bernabeu back in February
City hold a 2-1 advantage as they prepare for Friday night’s second leg against Real Madrid
The UK Government wishes to get at least some spectators back inside sporting arenas by October but this depends on the rate of coronavirus infection falling to safe levels.
Asked at his pre-match press conference today how much he miss normality, Guardiola said: ‘I think all professionals – managers and players – miss the spectators.
‘But it’s the reality. We have adapted already but hopefully we will play in front of them again soon.
‘If it happens it must be secure for everybody and not just for us. Also we went the kids back in school as soon as possible. That’s more important than people coming back in to the stadium.
‘So we will see.’
Eden Hazard and Lucas Vazquez were all smiles as they made the trip to Manchester
Raphael Varane (left) and Karim Benzema were in good spirits as they prepared for take off
Sergio Ramos was sat next to Marcelo as the Real Madrid squad travelled to Manchester
Goals from Gabriel Jesus and Kevin de Bruyne gave City a crucial 2-1 advantage over Real in Madrid but Guardiola doesn’t believe the first leg will have bearing on the return.
He said: ‘It is a long time ago, the first leg. It is a different game. We knew that. We are at home without our people but we will try to do a good game.’
On the field, if City can safeguard their lead on Friday night they will head to Lisbon next week to compete in the last eight and hopefully beyond in a series of one-off games.
City won the first leg by coming from behind late on but Guardiola wants his team to impose themselves from the off on Friday.
He added: ‘We’ve talked of how we can hurt them, that’s what we have focused on in the built up to this game.
‘We want to impose our style on the game. We want to take the game to areas where we can hurt them, where our quality can stand out.
‘I hope we can prove [goalkeeper] Thibaut Courtois is in good form by shooting on goal a lot. The situation of the game on the night is something that will decide that.’
Ramos, sent off in the closing stages in the first leg, will support his side from the stands
Hazard made the trip to England as Real prepare to take on Manchester City on Friday
Real Madrid boss Zidane is determined for his team to overturn a 2-1 first leg deficit v City
City are on course to play the winner of the tie between Juventus and Lyon in the quarter-finals if they complete the job against Real. Lyon lead the Italian champions 1-0 in the tie.
The Premier League side will be without record goalscorer Sergio Aguero on Friday as he continues his recovery from knee surgery but the Argentine could return for the final stages of the tournament.
Guardiola said: ‘He is getting better. I spoke with the doctors and everything is like we thought but he is still in Barcelona so I don’t know. Hopefully he can come back and start training with us but I don’t know.’
Sergio Aguero will be missing for the Real game as he recovers from knee surgery