Bakhar hails Guardiola as ‘best coach in history’
Red Star boss Barak Bakhar was pleased to get that aforementioned praise from Pep Guardiola, whom he hailed as the greatest manager ever.
However, he is evidently not letting such kind words distract him from the task of trying to cause a gargantuan upset tonight, or at the very least stop his team from being absolutely blown away by rampant City.
“It’s nice to hear that from the best coach in the history of football, for me,” Bakhar told reporters on Monday.
He added: “With all due respect, we have a game and we need to play good and make a good result. I don’t need compliments, I need a good game.”
Five changes from Red Star Belgrade
Red Star make five changes to the team that lost 2-1 away at FK Cukaricki in the Serbian top-flight on Saturday.
Srdan Mijailovic and Nasser Djiga replace Uros Spajic and Kosta Nedeljkovic in defence.
Hwang In-beom, Osman Bukari and Stefan Mitrovic also come in as Peter Olayinka, Vladimir Lucic and Kings Kangwa all make way.
Red Star Belgrade lineup
Starting XI: Glazer, Mijailovic, Djiga, Dragovic, Rodic, Hwang, Stamenic, Bukari, Ivanic, Mitrovic, Ndiaye
Subs: Degenek, Spajic, Kanga, Katai, Olayinka, Krasso, Milunovic, Kangwa, Lucic, Kabic, Popovic, Vasiljevic
The Champions League trophy is present at the Etihad tonight as City commence their title defence.
Erling Haaland spearheads their attack as usual this evening, no doubt looking to improve on his competition-best tally of 12 goals from last term which was four more than nearest rival Mohamed Salah.
Three Man City changes as Ake, Gomez and Nunes start
So that’s three changes from Pep Guardiola to the team that came from behind to beat West Ham 3-1 in the Premier League on Saturday and maintain Manchester City’s ominous 100 per cent start to the new season.
Two are in defence, with Nathan Ake and Sergio Gomez replacing Manuel Akanji and Josko Gvardiol.
Jeremy Doku also makes way as fellow summer signing Matheus Nunes is handed his first City start in midfield.
Red Star will no doubt have been hoping for a few more alterations.
Manchester City lineup
Starting XI: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Ake, Gomez, Rodrigo, Bernardo, Nunes, Foden, Alvarez, Haaland
Subs: Ortega Moreno, Carson, Phillips, Doku, Gvardiol, Akanji, Bobb, Lewis
Guardiola warns of tough Red Star Belgrade test
Few give Red Star a prayer of containing City at the Etihad tonight, but Guardiola has warned his side not to get complacent or underestimate an aggressive and counter-attacking opponent that he clearly believes won’t just be content to make up the numbers in Group G.
Guardiola was impressed with Red Star counterpart Barak Bakhar’s work with Maccabi Haifa in last season’s Champions League and his bravery when going toe-to-toe with the likes of Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.
“I remember Red Star. I remember when I was a young boy, [Diego] Maradona playing there and make a goal when he kicked the ball over the keeper,” Guardiola told reporters on Monday.
“I remember that fresh in my memory and the amazing squad. Always is a nice atmosphere. I remember perfectly well in Croatia. The culture for Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro this kind. Lovely countries and they have an incredible mentality.
“They are competitors. All the incredible athletes water polo, look now [Novak] Djokovic all the incredible athletes. All the competitors. I don’t know why but for the schools for the kids they have something special.
“[They are] so aggressive. In some moments they don’t defend man to man. Sometimes they defend man to man. We have to be ready. [They are] quick in the transitions, good runners.
“Typical system a 5-3-2 when they attack or a 5-2-3 with a lot of players in the final third. We have to be able to read well what we have to do.
“Well I saw last season [Bakhar was] with Maccabi Haifa in a difficult group against Juventus, Benfica and PSG.
“What I saw, because we saw a little bit, my staff analayse what he has done with Maccabi Haifa against Mbappe, Messi and Neymar for example. Very impressed with the courage and bravery to play against them. Doesn’t matter what happened. We think Tuesday is going to be quite similar.”
The Etihad Stadium is looking very dark and moody pre-match as the nights draw in with autumn upon us.
It doesn’t get much better than Champions League football under the lights.
We should be getting word of the official team news very shortly.
Guardiola hasn’t watched back last season’s final
Guardiola certainly made clear that he was not content with merely one Champions League title at City, with both club and manager having taken plenty of stick for their seeming inability to last the pace in Europe before their long-awaited maiden triumph in June.
Ex-Barcelona boss Pep has three in the locker now as a manager after failing to guide Bayern Munich to the promised land and is relishing the chance for another shot at glory with arguably the best club team on the planet.
Guardiola even admitted that he had not watched back last season’s final in Istanbul, when Rodri’s side-footed strike midway through the second half broke Inter hearts.
“People say we won it and it’s done. It’s not done,” the Spaniard said. “They’re happy, we’re happy. Every time we come here, people take pictures with the four trophies.
“That makes us so happy, you cannot deny, but if I wanted to live for the memories I wouldn’t be here. I’d be at home or on a beach.
“I didn’t watch the game, no. Not at all. The competition gives us a new challenge so let’s at least try – and I don’t have any doubt we will try.”
Guardiola wants back-to-back Man City titles
Manchester City would be joining an illustrious club if they did manage to win back-to-back European titles, with Real Madrid the only team to achieve the feat so far in the Champions League era – claiming an unprecedented three in a row between 2016-18.
Before that you have to go all the way back to the European Cup days and the great AC Milan side of Arrigo Sacchi, who won successive crowns in 1989 and 1990.
Guardiola said this week: “I’d like to say that for our club to win the Champions League is incredible – the first time in our history – but, in perspective, how many teams have won the Champions League once?
“A lot have won two, three, four, five. In perspective, we did nothing special. It’s just one.
“Let’s go. Let’s try to win tomorrow against a team so aggressive, so fast up front.
“It’s most difficult to win the first one. But every season we start the competition in the first game with the target to win the first game, then the group stage, then try to win the Champions League. Nothing changes from before.
“The same for Red Star. It depends on our performance and our level.
“We’re incredibly happy to defend this crown but this competition doesn’t allow you mistakes.
“But always we were so strong at home, nine points from nine. When that happens you can win just one game away and you qualify. This is the first step.”