Men's Team

'No excuses': Guardiola's message to players ahead of semi-final

Pep Guardiola admits the demands of Manchester City’s current schedule are difficult but says that cannot be used as an excuse ahead of our FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool.

The two teams meet at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, six days on from our thrilling 2-2 draw in the Premier League and just three days after both sides progressed to the last four of the Champions League.

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A much-changed Liverpool side draw 3-3 at home to Benfica on Wednesday, when City played out a bruising goalless draw with Atletico Madrid in the Spanish capital.

Guardiola acknowledged overcoming the physical pressures created by this run of must win games will be an additional challenge for his players at Wembley, but says they must adapt.

“A lot,” he replied when asked how difficult this period has been for his squad.

“I have said to the players that I do not want any excuses. We need to go to Wembley and play our game.

“Semi-finals of the FA Cup are always hard, against this side. Even with the top players fit and rested.

“I learned as a manager when you arrive in the latter stages in all competitions, you adapt to the schedule. If you want to complain for a [safety] net, you make a mistake.

“It is what it is. It is because we are fighting for the title. If we are not fighting for the titles we would have long weeks.

“I would prefer to be having this argument because we are fighting for the titles. I say it with a smile. I am not grumpy.

“It is not an ideal situation, we know that. Tomorrow at 3.30pm we will be there to try and win the game.”

Saturday’s contest will be the fifth FA Cup semi-final of Guardiola’s tenure.

City have progressed to the showpiece game just once in that period, beating Brighton and Hove Albion en route to lifting the trophy in 2018/19.

Guardiola is pleased with the consistency his side have shown to regularly reach the business end of the competition, but admits we have not produced our best form in this fixture.

City suffered a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at this stage last season and the Catalan hopes his side can improve on that performance this time round.

“In six seasons we are together, we reached five semi-finals in the FA cup,” he added.

“It is amazing. We have consistency but we didn’t perform this well in this game.

“Last season it was quite similar. We qualified for the [Champions League] semi-finals in Dortmund and we had three days to travel here to face Chelsea.

“We were flat in the first half. The second half we tried to push them but it was difficult to break the defensive system of Chelsea. Hopefully we can perform better [this time].

“It is a chance to reach the final of the FA Cup. It is a historical cup.”

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