Pep predicts no record for City

Pep Guardiola does not see City staying unbeaten. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2017
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Pep predicts no record for City

LONDON: Pep Guardiola has told anyone who is predicting Manchester City will go the entire Premier League season unbeaten to think again.
Free-scoring City moved five points clear at the top of the table as Sergio Aguero’s landmark 177th strike for the club helped them to a 3-0 win over Burnley at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Guardiola’s side are the only undefeated team left in the league after their club record-equalling 11th consecutive win in all competitions and playing a brand of football that at times has been simply breathtaking, drawing comparisons with the Spaniard’s time as boss of Barcelona.
But Guardiola is not getting carried away with talk of going the distance without a loss.
“To finish unbeatable, that is not going to happen because we are in a lot of games and a lot of competitions are so demanding, more than ever. To win with this kind of record sounds ridiculous,” he told reporters.
“There will be a moment when we are going down. In that moment I am curious and I will test myself as a manager with the players and see how we are going to react.
“I know people like a lot the statistics and to compare one to another one with titles, and I am happy for the 11 wins in a row because we showed that we can win a lot of games in a row. But that’s all.”
That last English club to go an entire league campaign unbeaten was Arsenal back in 2003-04. The Invincibles ended the season as champions with 26 win and 12 draws. That side included players such as Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires. The current City side does not look like poor relations in comparison. So far this year Kevin De Bruyne has been in imperious form making the team tick. His supporting cast has been just as impressive, Aguero, Leroy Sane and David Silva all causing more than enough trouble for opposition defenses.
But Guardiola is clearly not one to let his mind wander and get ahead of himself, warning his side that there could be several bumps ahead.
“We are going to lose games, of course, but complacency, being (too) relaxed, is what we are not. That is not going to happen with me,” he said.
City next visit West Brom on Saturday.


Why Juventus could prove to be Cristiano Ronaldo's toughest, most rewarding challenge yet

Updated 20 July 2018
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Why Juventus could prove to be Cristiano Ronaldo's toughest, most rewarding challenge yet

  • Portuguese superstar has moved to Italian giants in deal worth nearly $120 million
  • Ronaldo scored 450 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid

LONDON: Love him or loathe him, you have to admire Cristiano Ronaldo’s character.
At a time of life when lesser mortals are lured by big paychecks to the likes of Qatar or China, the mercurial Madeiran has opted for what will be his biggest challenge yet at Juventus.
His career over the last decade has been played out under the cloud of the never-ending debate — “Ronaldo or Messi; who is better?”
Thankfully, that circus was quietened somewhat at the recent World Cup. Some flashes of pure brilliance aside, neither player made a big enough impact to lead their respective teams to glory and Messi’s wait for an international trophy goes on.
And, while both players are undeniably in a league of their own, the fact Ronaldo does have a European Championship title under his belt will always tip the argument toward the Portuguese — especially for those who measure greatness in statistics and trophies.
In fairness, Ronaldo’s statistics are mind-boggling. His stint at Manchester United, where he cut his teeth and started to show his potential as a great of the game, was instrumental in the club winning three Premier League titles and their third European crown. His staggering 450 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid saw him become the Spanish giant’s record goalscorer on his way to winning everything under the sun.
But the Premier League and La Liga are leagues in which attacking footballers flourish. With the dawning of wall-to-wall TV coverage, they have both been transformed to entertain the billions of people who tune in every week — and in this day and age, goalscoring superstars win you fans, not defenses.
The art of defending has all-but disappeared and the culture of building a spine through a team has slowly but surely been eroded away. Nobody wants to watch an engrossing, absorbing, end-to-end goalless draw anymore — it is all about 6-5 thrillers.
But not so in Italy.
Serie A, for all its scandals and fall from grace since its heady days of the 1990s, is still an extremely difficult league to win. It is a league in which fans and managers place great emphasis on defending, on building teams from back-to-front (not the other way around) and on the mentality of “you cannot lose if you don’t concede.”
Granted, Juventus have walked Serie A for the past seven seasons; it is to be expected from one of the richest clubs in the world. But rarely have they won it at a canter. Never once have they scored anywhere near 100 goals in a season to win it — unlike Manchester City in last season’s Premier League, or Barcelona and Real Madrid almost every season in the same period.
And not once has Serie A’s top-goalscorer reached the dizzying heights Ronaldo (and Messi) hit in La Liga season after season, nor has it always been a Juventus player claiming the golden boot.
This all points to a monumental challenge for Ronaldo. On paper, he should not find it as easy to score goals in Serie A and with the marked improvement of Napoli, Roma and Lazio recently, nor will it be an easy ride for Juventus to claim an eighth scudetto in a row this year.
So, while Messi prefers to stay in one country and within his comfort zone of the defense-shy Spanish league, if a 30-something Ronaldo succeeds in Italy — or, better yet, guides Juventus to the European glory the fans crave so much — it would be his most remarkable achievement yet.
And it would put the tiresome debate over who is the greatest ever to bed, once and for all.
No contest.