Days off? Guardiola wants two weeks' training to prepare for Real Madrid

Pep Guardiola has said he will make a few changes when Manchester City travel to Watford on Tuesday for their penultimate league game of the season. The City manager is already looking forward to the visit of Real Madrid in the Champions League once the domestic season is over, and while Zinedine Zidane has promised to give his players some time to rest in the meantime, Guardiola intends to spend a fortnight preparing for the game.

City lead Spain’s league champions 2-1 on aggregate going into the second leg of their last-16 tie, which they host, on 7 August. “We will carry on training when the league season finishes, we will be able to devote two weeks to working on a specific way to play Real Madrid,” he said on Monday. “They are now going to have to play without Sergio Ramos so we will have to try and work out the way they are going to play. We have to improve our own performance too.

“We had enough chances to score against Arsenal at Wembley [in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final] but we didn’t take them. I’m sure we will be able to create chances against Real Madrid, but if we don’t take them we’ll be out. Generally though I feel positive. I’m excited to be able to prepare for a game against Real Madrid, with the players we have I am optimistic about making it into the next round.”

Guardiola also admitted that a fifth season at Manchester City will be a challenge but anticipates bringing in some new players to help freshen the side.

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“I have never been five years in one club as manager, but I know you face different challenges if you stay for a long time,” he said. “We are going to try and make small changes, perhaps attack in different way, but it all depends on the players that we have next season.

“New players who may join us will help with changing the freshness of the team. We are not going to bring in eight or nine players, that would be impossible. I would say around 85% of the team will stay the same but I am expecting to have some new faces around by next season.”


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