Football

Man City winning FA Cup the ideal prep for Real Madrid tie: Guardiola

Man City boss Guardiola wants Cup triumph to boost Champions League title chances

Manchester City have two trophies in their crosshairs, manager Pep Guardiola said after the club reached the FA Cup semi-finals with a 2-0 win over Newcastle United yesterday morning (Singapore time).

As well as the FA Cup, City are also still in the hunt for the Champions League title. They hold a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid from the away leg of their last-16 clash in February before the competition was suspended due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Europe's elite club competition will be completed with a "Final Eight" mini-tournament in Lisbon in August. The FA Cup semis will be on July 18-19 and the final is scheduled for Aug 1.

"We have two competitions we can win," Guardiola said.

"It will be good to arrive against Real in the best condition. To win the FA Cup would be the best way to prepare for Madrid."

The Catalan also said he was pleased with City's response after last week's 2-1 defeat by Chelsea handed Liverpool the English Premier League title.

"We're delighted after the defeat against Chelsea to be in London again at Wembley to play against Arsenal in the semi-final to try to reach the FA Cup final," he said.

"Always it's an incredible trophy and it gives us an extra bonus."

Kevin de Bruyne's first-half penalty, after Fabian Schar needlessly shoved Gabriel Jesus in the box, and a superb strike by Raheem Sterling after the break earned holders City a comfortable win.

"It was not easy to attack against a team defending so deep, but it was a good performance," Guardiola said.

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce felt that his side improved after the break, but rued how Dwight Gayle somehow missed a gaping goal.

"When you're playing against teams like these, you can't make the type of mistake we have done for the penalty," Bruce said.

TURNING POINT

"Unfortunately, we gave a poor penalty away and it's difficult enough because of the ability they have. In the second half, we were much better and brighter, and the big turning point - could we have made it a good cup tie had we equalised?

"Who knows whether we would have been able to go on from there, but we were certainly better in the second half."

All four of this year's Cup quarter-finals, all played behind closed doors, were won by the away team - the first time that has happened since 1987.

Manchester United will face Chelsea in the other semi-final.

Meanwhile, Bruce also wanted "clarity" from the EPL on the proposed Saudi-backed takeover of the club, saying the delay in approving the deal is "not healthy for anybody".

A group, with an expected 80 per cent investment from Saudi sovereign wealth fund PIF, have made a reported £300 million (S$515m) bid to buy Newcastle from British businessman Mike Ashley.

The club are awaiting the outcome of the league's owners and directors' test. The EPL has not commented on its approval procedure. - REUTERS


FA CUP SEMI-FINAL FIXTURES:

July 18-19

  • Manchester United v Chelsea
  • Arsenal v Manchester City
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