'Every season is a disadvantage' - Guardiola claims grueling schedule hinders English clubs in Europe

Pep Guardiola Manchester City
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Manchester City could qualify for the last 16 when they face Olympiacos on Wednesday and is confident his side can do "really well" this season

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola believes that English clubs have a disadvantage in Europe but is excited by the extra challenge.

Guardiola won the Champions League twice with Barcelona but has never been beyond the quarter-finals with City.

A busy schedule has been made even tighter this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic having shortened the calendar.

And Guardiola believes that the lack of a winter break and a tight fixture list already makes it harder for Premier League clubs to win the Champions League.

"Every season is a disadvantage with the rest of the leagues, this league. Not just in this special year - last season and this season for the Covid-19, for that we've had to adapt.

"But even when the situation is normal, no winter breaks, a lot of games, a lot of competitions, intensity, the weather condition, the pitches - many, many things. That is attractive, this is the challenge.

"On the other side when you are able to do it, that is nice. No one before could win a domestic treble or four titles in one season, so if your mind is in the right position, in the right way, you can do it."

City need a point from Wednesday’s trip to Olympiacos to confirm qualification to the knockout stages for an eighth successive season.

Guardiola’s side were surprisingly knocked out by Lyon in last season’s quarter-finals but he believes the club will be better this season.

"It's (winning the Champions League) not an obsession. We want to do it the best and I say it every season. We are going to try our best and we have an important chance to almost qualify, that’s so good, to be in the best 16 teams in Europe.

"We have the chance and are going to try, knowing we still have two more chances. We need one more game to be there mathematically, so that is great. With respect to the other ones, I have a feeling we will do really well this season.

"I don’t know why but I’ve felt it from the beginning. I expect a reaction after last season when we finished against Lyon in Portugal. We know what we have to do. We know we are a team who last season scored a lot but now we are struggling.

"But we have to find solutions. We have the players to find the right way to attack more fluently and I have the feeling we can score goals. The way we play is quite good, I’m quite happy. The little details we still have to improve.

"We conceded penalties that are not necessary. Sometimes we need clear chances to score. But the moment we break one or two of these kind of things we will get better. The season is still young and I’m fully optimistc we are going to do a good season."

Qualifying from the group stage will give Guardiola an opportunity to switch focus to the Premier League, with his side currently 13th and seven points behind the leaders.

He is at least starting to get his squad back to full strength, with only Nathan Ake not fit for the trip to Greece.

"It's important for the qualification, it's important to recover our feelings - they are not bad - but to be able to win games, it’s important of course. We can leave this competition until February, focus on other competitions and especially the Premier League.

"At the same time we know how difficult it is and even if we are able to get results we still have to travel to Portugal and play Marseille here. One step at a time. We'll try to get through tomorrow to qualify and at the same time, recover, come back with good feelings that we can create chances and score goals."

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