Soccer-Guardiola ignores Pellegrini record, tips City to go far

Reuters

By Sonia Oxley

MANCHESTER, England, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Pep Guardiola viewed his great record against old rival Manuel Pellegrini as irrelevant ahead of Wednesday's clash, with the Bayern Munich coach tipping Manchester City to go far in the Champions League.

The pair faced each other eight times in La Liga while Guardiola was in charge of Barcelona and Pellegrini was at Real Madrid, Villarreal and Malaga and the Chilean's teams lost seven times and drew once.

"That is not important," Guardiola told a news conference on the eve of the Group D encounter at the Etihad Stadium. "If I beat him all the time it is because I was the trainer of one of the best teams in the world.

"That's why sometimes it was easy for me. I'm really impressed with Manuel because I would like to be like him.

"No matter which team he is training ... his teams always play the same way. His trademark in his team is always there," added Bayern coach Guardiola.

"It's always a pleasure to play against Manuel because he loves to play football. It will be a good test for both teams."

The two sides started their European campaigns in convincing fashion with City beating Viktoria Plzen 3-0 and holders Bayern defeating CSKA Moscow by the same score.

City's only Champions League appearances have been in the previous two seasons and both ended in disappointment as the mega-rich English club fell in the group stages but Guardiola thinks this will be the year everything changes.

"Manchester City are one of the biggest clubs in Europe ... I'm 100 percent confident they will get through to the next round this year," he said.

"Manchester City will be one of the toughest, toughest teams in the next round."

'LUCKY GUY'

Treble-winners Bayern have made a solid, if not stylish, start to the season and are undefeated in the Bundesliga but the fact they are not playing well makes Guardiola uncomfortable.

The Spaniard has grappled with a decimated midfield as a result of injuries to Bastian Schweinsteiger, Javi Martinez, Thiago Alcantara and Mario Goetze and blames this for the absence of attractive football.

"It's impossible to play well without midfield players," said the former Barca coach who won 14 trophies over four years in charge of the Spanish giants with his team playing a beautiful possession-based game.

He has resorted to fielding full back Philipp Lahm in midfield - with much success - and said his versatility had been one of the key reasons Bayern were scraping wins.

"I know (his) real position is as the best full back in the world but I have just one midfield player," Guardiola said, adding that for several weeks his only fit midfielder had been Toni Kroos although the situation was now steadily improving.

"But I am a lucky guy again because I can use Philipp Lahm in this position. If tomorrow I decide to play him as a striker he will be the best striker in Europe, believe me. He's a special player." (Reporting by Sonia Oxley; Editing by Doug Revolta)

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