LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is concerned by the firepower of Champions League opponents Liverpool but says he will not change his side’s attacking approach in Wednesday’s quarter-final, first leg at Anfield.
City suffered their only defeat in an outstanding Premier League campaign at Liverpool, losing 4-3 in a thrilling encounter in January having trailed 4-1 before a late rally.
City and Liverpool are the Premier League’s top two scoring sides this season, with City finding the net 88 times and Liverpool 75.
Guardiola said he would be foolish to curtail his own side’s attacking instincts in Wednesday’s clash even though the two-legged nature of the tie was a consideration.
“If I said we are going to be different the players would look at me and say ‘this guy is scary’,” Guardiola told a news conference on Tuesday.
“Of course I consider the value of Liverpool, their qualities, and I’m concerned of what they do. I am not so arrogant to not know what they do. But I am not going to defend 90 minutes and counter attack.
“If we defend 90 minutes it (will be) because Liverpool are unstoppable,” he added.
Guardiola conceded that his team’s attacking, passing style was suited to Liverpool, who play with three forwards capable of pouncing on small mistakes and exploiting gaps in defence.
“We have to be defensively well, for the way we play it’s perfect for Liverpool,” he said.
City were knocked out of last year’s Champions League in the last 16 by French club Monaco, after winning the home leg 5-3 but then losing in the principality 3-1 to go out on away goals.
Guardiola said his team needed to be better at staying calm under pressure this time.
“Of course, we cannot forget it’s 180 minutes, we were not able to do it in this situation last season,” he said.
“In the bad moments you have to remain calm. Madrid, Barcelona, they (look like they) take a cup of coffee because they know their chance is coming. That’s the big difference.”
City’s influential midfielder Kevin De Bruyne said the defeat at Anfield in January came down to a short spell where Liverpool ran riot.
“We had a 10-minute spell where we lost control of the game it was 50/50 at the time but we lost some balls and they got three goals,” he said.
“It’s difficult to come back but we tried everything and it was nearly possible. It was a crazy game but for the neutral it was beautiful,” he said.
City have a 16-point lead at the top of the Premier League and will be crowned champions if they beat local rivals Manchester United on Saturday.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Toby Davis