Pep Guardiola defends Manchester City tactics in Tottenham defeat
City manager warns his players to expect tough test at Selhurst Park when they play Crystal Palace on Sunday, live on Sky Sports
By Joe Shread
Last Updated: 12/04/19 3:04pm
Pep Guardiola has defended his decision to tweak his tactics and leave out key players in Manchester City's defeat to Tottenham on Tuesday.
The Spaniard started with an extra holding midfielder and left Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane on the bench until the 89th minute, as City fell to a 1-0 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
However, Guardiola believes his team, who had just two shots on target in the game - one of which was Sergio Aguero's missed penalty - played "really good".
When asked about his tactics at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, he said: "It doesn't count if the decision was good or not after the game; nothing changes. We have sometimes made decisions that are difficult to understand, but we win and everyone says we are genius.
"We had a plan and the players know why we took those decisions for the way we wanted to play in the first leg. We did it quite well.
"Sometimes it doesn't work that well, because the competition is tough and the opponents are good. Tottenham are a team that runs in behind a lot and we controlled it quite well.
"We thought the game would be more low-tempo and there would be more passes. We would attack in the right moment - we have two games, not one.
"We didn't want to concede a counter-attack, where they are stronger than us. We had two days to rest and they had six. They can punish us. That's why we decided to play a different type of game.
"But in general, the game was really good. Unfortunately we could not score a goal, but we have a second leg at home.
Ilkay Gundogan, who started at the base of midfield alongside Fernandinho against Spurs, criticised City's approach in the game, saying they were "not brave enough" and are "too nervous" in the Champions League.
Guardiola made it clear he does not share his player's opinion, however, saying: "I think I don't agree with him; absolutely not. Ilkay can say whatever he wants. I like when they express what they believe.
"I think when we conceded the goal, nothing happened. We reacted quite well, we were mentally strong and the team was stable.
"For 20 months, we've been winning every three days; an incredible amount of games. We have won 180 points in two seasons."
City will attempt to overturn the deficit against Spurs in the second leg at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, but first have to contend with a trip to Crystal Palace on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.
Guardiola is wary of the threat Roy Hodgson's side will pose, warning: "We knew it from weeks ago - Selhurst Park is always difficult; not just for the stadium but the quality of players they have.
"They are really well organised, and up front, they have quality players. But we have six games left to finish the Premier League, and we know what we are playing for.