Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola. / AFP PHOTO / dpa / Maja Hitij / Germany OUT
Pep Guardiola admits he is glad his Manchester City will avoid his ex-club Bayern Munich in the draw for the last 16 of the Champions League.
City booked their place in the knock-out phase on Wednesday with a sluggish 1-1 draw at Borussia Moenchengladbach as both teams finished with ten men.
The point confirms City will finish second in their group with one game left to play.
Gladbach are confirmed in third — which means the last 32 of the Europa League — after bottom side Celtic lost 2-0 at home to Barcelona, who win Group C.
Bayern will join City in the same pot when the draw for the last 16 is made on Monday December 12 in Nyon.
The German giants will also finish second in their group after their shock 3-2 defeat at Rostov with Atletico Madrid progressing as winners.
Guardiola says he is delighted to have steered City to the last 16, even more so to have avoided Bayern, who he took to the semi-finals in each of the last three seasons.
“In the last 16, all the teams will be tough,” said Guardiola.
“Bayern Munich, for example, are also second.
“The team who gets them is going to suffer and I’m glad we won’t play them.”
Raffael’s goal for Moenchengladbach midway through the first half was cancelled out by City’s David Silva on the stroke of half-time at Borussia Park.
Gladbach then had captain Lars Stindl sent off on 50 minutes for a second yellow card and subsequent red.
But both sides were left with ten men for the final half an hour when City had Fernandinho dismissed for his second yellow after pulling back Raffael.
This was not a convincing display from City, who looked a shadow of the side which stunned Barcelona 3-1 in Manchester three weeks ago.
They looked vulnerable in defence in the first half and have now conceded nine goals on the road, failing to win any of their three away matches in Europe.
For all their possession in the second half, their star-studded attack failed to convert their chances.
But City are in last 16 for the fourth straight year and Guardiola was delighted to have progressed.
– ‘so happy’ –
“I know how hard it is to win away from home, we have to be so, so happy because some big teams will not be in the second round,” said Guardiola.
“Hopefully we can do well and qualify for the quarter-finals.
“Four years ago, the second stage was a bit easier, but now all the teams are so strong and anything can happen.”
Guardiola said the Premier League will be their focus until their European campaign resumes in February with their final match at Celtic now a dead rubber.
“We will prioritise our games in the Premier League,” he said.
“We have Burnley and Chelsea before we have to think about Celtic in ten days time.
“We have qualification in the bag, so that’s decided until February and we can focus on other things.”
Gladbach are winless in their last six games, but punched above their weight to hold City at home, especially having been routed by Guardiola’s side 4-0 in the away fixture last September.
The result relieves some of the pressure on coach Andre Schubert, whose team is mid-table in Germany’s top flight.
“Overall, we are very happy with the third place,” said Schubert.
“In the first half we played an outstanding game and could have scored a second goal.”