Pep Guardiola Plays Down Champions League Chances of 'Teenagers' Manchester City

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2019

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 11: Pep Guardiola the head coach / manager of Manchester City  during the Manchester City Press Conference & Training Session ahead of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second leg match against Schalke 04 at Manchester City Football Academy on March 11, 2019 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has played down his side's chances of winning this season's UEFA Champions League, saying the Premier League club remain "teenagers" in the competition.ย 

City are in a strong position to qualify for the quarter-finals of the tournament, as they gear up to face Schalke in the second leg of their last-16 clash on Tuesday, having won the away fixture 3-2.

Per BBC Sport, speaking ahead of the encounter, Guardiola made it clear he thinks City are still novices when it comes to the Champions League and talked up the talents of other teams remaining in the competition:

"We cannot deny how strong other teams are. You have to dream, to point as high as possible and at the same time accept there are other teams thinking the same. ...

"All the clubs that are in the knockout stages want to win this title. It is difficult. This competition is judged that when you are out of the last 16 it is a big disaster. My perspective is completely different.

"People say it is easy. Imagine to get into the last eight teams in Europe? Of course we want to win it, but the other teams also have this desire. People think that because Real Madrid are not there, this competition will be easy. Of course I thought they were the favourites, but there still remains incredible clubs to beat."

The City manager then described his side as "teenagers" when compared to some of the other heavyweights left in the hunt:

Manchester City News @ManCityMEN

๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ "We are teenagers in this competition." ๐Ÿง’๐Ÿ† Pep Guardiola spoke on his side's chances of winning the @ChampionsLeague at his pre-match press conference. #mcfc https://t.co/87CswozfSK

Here is a reminder of how City took the lead in the last 16 first leg, as they launched a memorable late comeback to beat Schalke (U.S. only):

Bleacher Report Live @brlive

Schalke-Manchester City was absolutely wild ๐ŸŽข https://t.co/1fXmtZrCbl

Although City are still relatively new to the Champions League scene and have only previously made it as far as the semi-finals of the competition, there is a reason why so many consider them to be one of the favourites for glory.

The depth Guardiola has available across the team is remarkable and arguably not something available to any other manager left in the Champions League. It means that while he could rotate for Tuesday's match, there won't too much of a drop off in quality in the XI.

In addition, there doesn't appear to be much hope of the visitors mounting a comeback akin to what Ajax and Manchester United were able to produce last week:

Simon Bajkowski @spbajko

Schalke press conference full of positivity: Tedesco asked how he's coping with pressure on his job and Nastasic talking about how they feel like they will concede with every shot they face at the minute

At the moment, City's hopes of an unprecedented quartet of trophies are still alive. Having already won the League Cup, they are in a strong position to qualify for the last eight of the Champions League, in the quarters of the FA Cup against Swansea City and top of the Premier League.

City have a job to finish at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, and should they get through, Guardiola will surely continue to temper expectations. However, at this point there's a case to make for City being favourites for every competition they remain involved in.