MANCHESTER, March 8: With their first home loss in 15 months, Manchester City ended up stumbling into the quarterfinals of the Champions League.Not that Pep Guardiola was particularly bothered about a surprise 2-1 home loss to Basel.
“This kind of position is not going to happen in the quarterfinals, where you have a 4-0 (lead) from the first leg. When it’s scary to be (knocked) out, the rhythm will be completely different,” the City coach said. Indeed, it was difficult to draw too many conclusions from what was only City’s fourth loss of the season in all competitions.
A 4-0 win in Switzerland in the first leg three weeks ago made qualification almost a formality for a team that is 16 points clear in the Premier League and one of the favourites to win the Champions League. Guardiola fielded a virtual reserve side at Etihad Stadium for the return match, and making six changes from its previous game disrupted the fluency of the team’s passing and pressing game. – AP