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Tuesday 27 September 2016

Pep fears City under-prepared for Euro clash

City boss Pep Guardiola
City boss Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola fears Manchester City will be under-prepared for what he calls their most important game of the season.

City's campaign kicks off against Sunderland on August 13 - but it is their Champions League play-off a few days later that is causing Guardiola most concern.

Having finished fourth under Manuel Pellegrini last season, City face a two-legged tie to qualify for the group stages of the competition. They concluded their tour of China on Thursday with a penalty shoot-out victory against Borussia Dortmund, following a 1-1 draw in normal time.

But Guardiola's side are behind schedule due to the cancellation of their game against Manchester United in Beijing on Monday.

They have hastily arranged a behind-closed-doors game at their academy next week, before a final friendly against Arsenal in Gothenburg the following weekend. But Guardiola made little attempt to hide his concern after facing a Dortmund team who were playing their sixth game of pre-season in Shenzhen.

And he has been frank about the fact it will take time for him to get his ideas across to the players he inherited.

"I don't like to complain," he said. "I would like to have more time from the beginning. I would like to have more friendly games.

"Competitions finish so late and start again so early so we have to adapt. We have to travel in China, the United States and Australia. We have to adapt. It is what it is.

"Today we played one of the best teams in Europe by far. They are so strong, that's why I'm so happy how we did.

"There are many things to improve. I have said that the beginning will be tough, so to create something new you need time. Of course we have the Champions League, the most important game for our season. I know we're going to play not with the level I want in February, March and April, but it is what it is."

Guardiola is determined to implement his high-pressing, possession game at City - but with him still waiting to work with his full squad there is little chance of getting his message across in time for the start of the season.

"Some players get it immediately and the other ones never," he said. "Some of them I can tell a lot and they understand the process immediately. And for some of them one session is enough."

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