Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has been questioned over his team selection against Real Madrid. City took on Real in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie at the Bernabeu on Wednesday. Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero were both surprise omissions from the starting XI by Guardiola.
Sterling has been struggling with a hamstring injury which has kept him out since the 2-0 loss to Tottenham on February 2.
But former City goalkeeper Joe Hart claims he would have picked both Sterling and top scorer Aguero for the trip to the Spanish capital.
“They’re big decisions aren’t they, they’re huge decisions. Would we pick that team? Probably not,” Hart said on BT Sport.
“I’d want Aguero and Sterling in my starting XI, simple as that, if I want to go and beat one of the best teams in the world.
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“But there’s method to his madness, he trains with the guys every day, I’m sure he feels that this is the team that’s going to set up the tie for the Etihad. Whether it does or whether it doesn’t, we’ll see.”
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand was working alongside Hart for BT Sport.
Ferdinand was made aware of the statistic that Guardiola has only won six of his 26 Champions League knockout matches away from home as a manager.
And he says it is about time the Spaniard added to the wins he had in the competition with Barcelona.
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“When you lay down the stats it does sound like ‘Wow, what’s happened there?’,” Ferdinand said.
“We wouldn’t associate that with Pep Guardiola immediately.
“But listen, there’s no doubting or getting away from the fact that he is one of the top two or three coaches on the planet.
“He’s a genius, he’s a maverick, he’s somebody who’s very innovative in his thoughts and philosophy on the game. So as a coach it’s undoubted what he is.
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“But again, you’ve got to win, you’ve got to continue winning the Champions League, it’s been something that’s alluded him since he’s been gone from Barcelona.”
City are set to miss out on winning a third successive Premier League title as they currently sit 22 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool.
But Guardiola was still confident ahead of the trip to Real on Wednesday.
“I know this is a big opportunity in the last 16. We are playing the king of this competition, so we know the challenge in front of us,” Guardiola said.
“Consecutive (league) titles shows how good this team is.
“They (Real) are the best and it’s a huge challenge for us to meet them.
“We are convinced that we want to play against them, win and be the level of this competition.”
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