The reigning Premier League champ could be celebrating four titles 12 games from now but their boss feels the prospect is somewhat far fetched
Pep Guardiola sought to temper quadruple talk after his Manchester City side edged into the FA Cup final with a battling 1-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion at Wembley.
Gabriel Jesus’ superbly crafted fourth-minute opener suggested a canter for the reigning Premier League champions but City struggled for their fluent best thereafter.
Nevertheless, they secured a return to England’s national stadium – where Raheem Sterling dispatched the decisive penalty to see off Chelsea in an EFL Cup final shoot-out in February – and will remain in London ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg at Tottenham.
Liverpool’s relentless form means the battle for the Premier League looks set to go to the wire, even as City’s fate remains in their own hands with six matches remaining.
Addressing a news conference immediately after his team’s second-half slog, Guardiola suggested he had seen fresh evidence that an unprecedented clean sweep of major honours will prove a bridge too far.
“I will announce you something – it is almost impossible to win the quadruple, almost,” he said. “Put it in the headlines, guys.
“Surviving until this stage of the competitions is already a miracle, that is why it is incredible what these players have done.”
From Kyle Walker’s fortune in escaping a red card for appearing to aim a headbutt at Alireza Jahanbakhsh, to a prolonged exchange of views with Raheem Sterling on the field at full-time, Guardiola was given plenty of cause for consternation by his players.
Nevertheless, he once again praised their endeavours in not allowing standards to slip after winning the Premier League with a record 100-point haul last season.
“The year after, when you have the tendency to be arrogant or a little more presumptuous, still we are there,” he said.
“That’s why it’s incredible what these players have done before. Every game we lose players but that is normal when you play a lot of games. We are going to try until the end every game.”
Guardiola counts Walker among that number, stating the England right-back was withdrawn at half-time due to back pain and not to spare him following a booking collected during the Jahanbakhsh incident.
Top scorer Sergio Aguero did not make the matchday squad at Wembley, having also sat out the midweek win over Cardiff City, but is to resume training on Sunday and will be assessed ahead of the Tottenham match.
A more positive fitness story for City came on the opposite flank to Walker as Benjamin Mendy completed 79 minutes on his first start following knee surgery in November.
“It was a long, long time he didn’t play one single game,” Guardiola added, having lost left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko to a hamstring strain against Cardiff.
“He is back training just one or two weeks. We have a lot of problems in the defensive part, especially the full-backs.
“So, he started a bit like this, like that [up and down]. But after he played confidently and in the second half he played better.”
Man Utd to pay Ronaldo £17m per year to leave Juventus
Manchester United have tabled a £17 million-a-year deal, in a bid to lure Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus this summer, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.
The transfer could see Paul Pogba also return to Juventus.
Ronaldo’s future is likely to be one of the biggest sagas of the summer window.
It is understood the Portugal captain is eager to leave Italy, but Paris Saint-Germain is his preferred destination.
Usain Bolt chooses better player between Ronaldo, Messi
But with no deal offered yet from the Ligue 1 giants, Manchester United is said to have swooped with a tempting offer for their former player.
The Red Devils are willing to pay Ronaldo £17m a year to bring him back to Old Trafford. And with Pogba’s situation at the club unclear, he could be used as a makeweight in the deal.
Sporting Lisbon and Real Madrid are also being talked about as potential destinations for Ronaldo, but the finances could be an issue with a number of big clubs cash-strapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mbappe vs Giroud: Pogba clears air on ‘rift’ between France teammates
France midfielder, Paul Pogba, has cleared the air on a ‘rift’ between teammates, Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud.
Recall that Mbappe felt ‘attacked’ and ‘angry’ following Giroud’s comments that he was unhappy with France’s lack of cohesion in attack after Didier Deschamps’s side defeated Bulgaria 3-0 in their final Euro 2020 warm-up game on Tuesday evening.
Reacting to the development, Pogba insisted that there is a ‘great atmosphere’ in the French camp ahead of their Euro 2020 campaign.
Asked whether there has been any tension or rift between Giroud and Mbappe, Pogba told a pre-match press conference ahead of the Euro 2020 campaign: “No, the only tension is on the back and legs!
“There is always a great atmosphere with everyone. Between Olivier and Kylian, there is nothing. Or at least there has been nothing in front of me.
“Maybe what was said was conveyed incorrectly,” he added.
France kicks off their Euro 2020 campaign against Germany next Tuesday.
The World Cup champions will also face Portugal and Hungary in Group F.
Transfer: Giroud welcome to join me at AC Milan – Ibrahimovic
Ferdinand, Shearer, Lineker predict Euro 2020 winner
Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Lineker have all predicted that France will win Euro 2020.
The French will expect to add a continental triumph to their World Cup success.
Dider Deschamps’ team conquered the world in Russia three years ago, with the squad still boasting of Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and N’Golo Kante.
Karim Benzema has also returned from a five-year exile to add more strength to the already deadly attack.
UCL: Lineker, others praise Chelsea’s Mason after 2-0 win over Porto
“France to win it. They have got talent all over the pitch,” Shearer told the BBC.
Ferdinand added: “France have got the most depth and the most talent, that is why they are my favourites.”
Lineker however believes defending champions Portugal could yet retain their crown, but has still backed Les Bleus.
“It’s hard to look beyond France – they were losing finalists five years ago, they won the World Cup three years ago and now they have Karim Benzema too.
“They will be improved and they have brilliant young players too. They have to be favourites.
“Portugal are not exactly an outsider because they won the thing four years ago but they have a very good team and they will have a chance,” he said.
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