After giving Manchester United and José Mourinho a footballing lesson at the weekend, Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are not yet ready to compete with Europe’s elite.
But after their 2-1 derby win at Old Trafford on Saturday, Pep says his side will be confident of opening their Champions League campaign with victory over Borussia Munchengladbach tonight (8.45pm).
The Spaniard could hardly have started his City reign more impressively with four consecutive Premier League wins and a crushing Champions League playoff defeat of Steaua Bucharest.
But Guardiola, twice a Champions League winner as coach of Barcelona, has quickly moved to dampen expectations.
He says: “Until now, in the Premier League it has been OK — but to compete against the best clubs in Europe, in this moment with the way we are playing, we are not able to.”
The comment was all the more surprising as it came after beating United without top striker Sergio Aguero, who was suspended but will be available on Tuesday, as City oozed confidence.
Pep’s star man from City’s derby win Kevin de Bruyne, though, believes the Sky Blues are on the up.
The Belgian winger reckons he has teammates need to be more physical after going to the semifinals for the fist time.
He says: “Last year for me was great. Obviously we had some slip-ups here and there, but overall I had a good year. I am just trying to build on it.
“I think that the way we try to play now is very enjoyable, especially for the attacking players, because we try to play nice football, the way we wanted to play.
“We have got to go a little bit away from the physical game in the Premier League because we are not as strong as other teams…”