Pep Guardiola praises attitude of his Manchester City side but warns Real Madrid tie is ‘not over’

‘We played with good personality. I’m so proud’: Pep Guardiola praises attitude of his Manchester City side but warns that Champions League last-16 tie with Real Madrid is ‘not over’

  • Manchester City beat Real Madrid 2-1 in their Champions League last-16 first leg 
  • Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne goals saw City overturn a 1-0 deficit in Spain
  • City host Real in the last-16 second leg at the Etihad Stadium on March 17

Pep Guardiola hailed Manchester City’s character after securing one of the club’s greatest European victories at Real Madrid on Wednesday night.

Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne both scored during a dramatic final 12 minutes to shock the Bernabeu into silence after the La Liga giants had taken a surprise lead.

Guardiola was effusive in praising his squad, who are now favourites to progress to the Champions League quarter-final ahead of next month’s second leg.

Pep Guardiola has given the thumbs up to Manchester City’s display against Real Madrid

‘I’m happy for the victory but the performance as well, we played with good personality,’ Guardiola said. ‘I’m so proud. But it’s just the first step. It’s not over. Enjoy the moment and be calm.

‘This club only has one semi-final in the Champions League, we haven’t won anything. Winning at the Bernabeu is a great satisfaction for us.

‘We’re not used to do these things and hope it’ll help us in the future to believe in ourselves.

‘We can’t control what happens off the pitch. The players want to do it. It’s not easy, the club is living it with opinions from the outside.

‘All we can do is play well and win games. Hopefully the board can convince UEFA we did nice things and not wrong things.’

The City manager shocked many by altering his formation, playing four across midfield, Jesus on the left wing and De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva as strikers. His tweaks saw City dominate much of the night after drilling the players on how to attack Real for the entirety of last week.

‘I think in the four years with Pep sometimes there are some surprises,’ De Bruyne said. ‘Sometimes players aren’t told until the game what we need to do.

‘Some parts were good, some lesser moments, but in a quality game like this you’ll struggle sometimes but we fought well together.’

Guardiola added: ‘Maybe I provide too much information to the players but I have to study teams. We had 10 free days in England and I watched the most amount of Real matches (available).’

City’s celebrations were tempered by a muscle injury sustained by Aymeric Laporte, who hobbled off before half-time. ‘It’s a problem after coming back from months to this demanding game,’ Guardiola said. ‘Unfortunately we’ve suffered a lot this season in this department. We will go with what we have until the end.’

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane said: ‘What bothers me is how the match changed, the mistakes we had at the end is painful. We didn’t deserve that, but it’s football and you have to be focused for 90 minutes.’