MANCHESTER, Feb 13 ― Manchester City are expecting a tight game in today's Champions League last-16 first leg tie against a fresh and competitive Copenhagen team, coach Pep Guardiola said ahead of the match at the Parken Stadium.
Copenhagen, who finished second in Group A ahead of Manchester United and Galatasaray, trailing only Bayern Munich, return to competitive action after a two-month winter break.
City are on a 10-match winning run in all competitions but their Spanish coach is certainly not complacent as his side resume their European title defence.
“We have seen what (Copenhagen) can do against Man Utd and Galatasaray in a really tough group. When I saw what they did I thought 'wow',” Guardiola told a news conference on Monday.
“They will be starving to compete and full of energy. I don't know what their rhythm will be like but hopefully we will be at a good level to compete.
“We have to be prepared mentally. We have to be ready to suffer as it will be a tight game. Normally, my gut doesn't lie to me.”
Guardiola's side are in good spirits after their top scorer Erling Haaland returned to action at the weekend, scoring twice in a 2-0 win over Everton after a two-month injury absence.
“He is so strong mentally ― after one goal he wants a second one and then a third. We are delighted he is back after two months out,” the Spaniard said.
“You see his numbers in the Champions League, even (Lionel) Messi does not have these numbers at his age. It's unbelievable” he added of the 23-year-old striker who has scored 52 goals in 53 Champions appearances for City and Borussia Dortmund.
Guardiola had also had midfielder Kevin De Bruyne back in the side after five months out with a hamstring injury. ― Reuters