The Arsenal boss has revealed the Manchester City boss once visited him because he wanted to represent Arsenal.

Wenger did not take up Guardiola’s offer and the Spaniard went on to represent Brescia, Roma, Al-Ahli, and Mexican side Dorados before he hung his boots in 2006.

Pep Guardiola represented the Barcelona senior team for 11 years – appearing in 263 games for the Blaugrana, and Wenger who praised the former Spanish international for his understanding of the game said Guardiola once visited him in order to play for the North London side.

Praising Guardiola’s philosophy in an interview with Beinsports, Wenger said: “I have spoken with him on various occasions, one time he came to my house because he wanted to play for Arsenal.

“He has had some exceptional teams and trained them very well.

“I respect what he does because he has a clear vision of the game and positive attitude and philosophy.”

The Frenchman concluded: “Even if he doesn’t win because of it, I respect him for the influence that he has on the game”

In his first season as a manager, Guardiola guided Barcelona to a treble, winning the La Liga, Copa Del Rey and the UEFA Champions League – in winning the latter, he became the youngest coach to win the competition.

Having departed Barcelona in the summer of 2012, he signed for Bundesliga giant Bayern Munich in 2013 – where he won the Bundesliga in all of the three seasons he spent at the club.

And having putting pen to a three-year deal with Man City in 2016, the Spaniard witnessed his first season without a trophy same season.

Guardiola’s Man City stand a chance to win a quadruple this season - as they are 16 points ahead second-place Man u in the league.

The Citizens will also lock horns with Arsenal in the final of the Capital One Cup next week at the Wembley Stadium and are also in contention to win the Emirates FA Cup the UEFA Champions League.

Published in International Watch

SpotkickNG

 

As the most memorable aspect of February rolls around (sit down, Valentine’s Day), spotkick’s trusted pick up their crystal balls and cast their predictions on which teams will remain when 16 gets trimmed to eight in the Champions League:

Ola Fadahunsi 

Man City vs Basel

City have been one of the best sides in Europe this season; the tie with Basel should be a banana peel.

City, duh! 

Juventus vs Tottenham

Spurs made a good statement by topping Madrid in the group stage but Juventus' experience in Europe should see them above the North London side.

Juve to knock out Spurs

Porto vs Liverpool

The oddity here is Liverpool qualifying if history is anything to go by. But I will still stick with the Merseyside Red.

Liverpool for me

Real Madrid vs PSG 

Madrid are going into this tie with little or nothing to lose as many have written them off - thus putting enormous pressure on PSG. I doubt PSG's ability to contain this pressure even with their star-studded side led by Neymar: last year's exit to Barcelona at this stage is a perfect example.

I still think Real will qualify.

Chelsea vs Barcelona

The Blues' strength playing Barca over the years has been how solid they've been at the back but this year’s tie will be different - as Barca's strongest household has been their back line and when you sync that with what Messi and Suarez can offer upfront, Chelsea will bow out in style.

Barcelona to progress

Sevilla vs Manchester United

Consistency has been a problem for the two sides but i think United have more than enough to deal with whatever Sevilla would be throwing at them.

United to go through. 

Shakhtar Donetsk vs Roma

An even tie. Against all odds, Roma made it pass group stage - topping both Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, but if you've been a follower of the UCL for years, you'll know how dangerous Shaktar can be in games like this. As a lover of history, I'll give it to Shakhtar

 

Kunle Ajao

Juventus v Tottenham

Spurs have delivered much better than expected in this season’s competition, after underperforming in the previous campaign. They topped a group that comprised Dortmund and Real Madrid, and their 3-1 win over the latter was mighty impressive. Juve, though, have pedigree in this competition, and have been finalists for two of the last three seasons. They’ve been here and done it before more times than their opponents at this stage. With both sides possessing formidable defences and midfields as well, it might well boil down to which striker, in Harry Kane and Gonzalo Higuain, will have a better day.

Juventus to just about sneak through. 

Basel v Manchester City

There’s no doubt who the overwhelming favourite is for this one, Man City have looked impeccable most times this season. Basel were impressive in qualifying from Group A, beating Manchester United on the way, but have lost Manuel Akanji and Renato Steffen to the Bundesliga. They might spring a surprise, but this looks a hard ask.

Barring a shock, City to go through 

Real Madrid v PSG

The tie of the round, the game that is most likely to determine the future of both managers. For Paris Saint-Germain, it’s finally a chance to prove they can roll with the elite after all the years of spending, especially with last year’s capitulation to Barcelona still in the memory. Real Madrid, meanwhile, have their whole season riding on this.

PSG to make the last eight for me

Porto v Liverpool

This tie seems finely poised, pitting two teams who’ll equally fancy their chances of progress. Liverpool’s front three, despite the departure of Philippe Coutinho, has been one to envy, even if Sadio Mane’s form has dipped recently. Their defence still leaves much to ponder, though, and Porto will look to capitalise on any slackness. But Liverpool’s best form of defending has been attacking, and it has worked so far.

Will be no straightforward task, but Liverpool should progress

Bayern Munich v Besiktas

No prizes for guessing the favourite here, Bayern haven't quite looked the same since Jupp Heynckes took over from Carlo Ancelotti, with only one defeat in all competitions since September. Besiktas do have an experienced, if not ageing, squad which helped finish top of Group G, but that also owed a big part to Cenk Tosun, whose January departure is a big blow.

The odds look overwhelmingly on Bayern Munich

Chelsea v Barcelona

This seems like the most ill-timed meeting of them all, Chelsea’s form having dropped massively, and not helped by Antonio Conte’s constant complaints over transfer dealings. Barcelona have lost just once since that supposedly-crushing Super Cup defeat in August. Philippe Coutinho is cup-tied, but Ernesto Valverde’s side are still favourites in this tie, if not the whole competition.

Barcelona to make progress here.

Shakhtar Donetsk v Roma

Roma were impressive in finishing top of a group that involved Chelsea and Atletico Madrid. But they haven’t been at their best lately in Serie A, and have slipped well out of the title race. Shakhtar are just as impressive a side, and have previous when it comes to the two teams meeting at this stage, they beat the Giallorossi in the last 16 in 2011.

Roma to qualify, just about. 

Sevilla v Manchester United

Sevilla are still searching for that first Champions League quarter-final appearance. They came close in 2008 (losing to Fenerbahce) and last season (eliminated by Leicester), but this looks like the hardest task of all. Jose Mourinho is a master at negotiating ties like this, and only the most courageous would bet against United going through, particularly with this being perhaps their most likely chance of silverware.

Manchester United to progress

 

Shehu Idris

Basel v Manchester City 

Does this actually need a prediction. Better luck next time Basel. A full scale hurricane is coming Basel's way, perhaps they shouldn't even bother showing up for both legs but, in Ed Sheeran's voice, "What do I know?". 

Juventus vs Tottenham

This is like a classic ole battle between an old, experienced and embittered war veteran and a young, greenhorn who's shown that his youthful exuberance can bleed giants to death if allowed. I'm tilting towards the green-necks from North London they should handle the Old Lady pretty easily. 

Porto vs Liverpool

This should be easy for Jürgen Klopp's men, they'll do it on both legs and if by deeds of their typical Liverpool-ism they don't, take this prediction as a tongue-in-cheek bluff. 

Real Madrid vs PSG

We'll plumb this pseudo-big club money sack with over-pampered players who're only there because of the jiggling coins it has in coffer. Real Madrid to progress, yes of course. 

Bayern Munich vs Besiktas

It’s hard for anyone to not see Bayern progressing here 

Chelsea vs Barcelona

Chelsea are but a sorry shadow of their true selves currently, with their coach a 'Noob Saibot' of his usually maniac, football-loving self and against a Barcelona side that haven't lost in the league this season and have Lionel Messi? May God have mercy on them. Barcelona to progress. 

Sevilla vs Manchester United

Sevilla struggled under Eduardo Berrizo, are still struggling under Vincenzo Montella, plus this season has been what they projected it will be. Manchester United will help see to that. United to ease pass them. 

Shakhtar Donetsk vs Roma

Who are these ones? Me, I'm tired ooo. Anyway, Roma to progress.

 

So, according to we at spotkick.com, the potential quarter finalists are:

Barcelona 

Manchester City 

Manchester United 

Roma

Real Madrid 

Juventus 

Bayern Munich 

Liverpool

Keep in mind, keyword, ‘potential’,  there’s not many things as humbling as seeing a seemingly genius and iron-clad prediction go all kinds of wrong.

 

Feel free to disagree with us in the comments section.

Published in International Watch

He scored a lot of goals but with me playing just behind him, I'm sure he would have scored a lot more

The legendary forward, who people believed that joining Real Madrid during his playing days would have made him a better footballer, has disclosed that not playing with Ronaldo Delima  is the only regret he had as a footballer.

The 41-year-old hung up his boots in May – putting an end to his 25-year playing career with boy hood club, Roma.

Totti, who hold some tinge of sadness for not playing with the former Real Madrid and Inter Milan striker believes that he would have made Ronaldo a better player.

According to the former Roma Captain, Ronaldo Delima would have scored more goals if they had played together.

Totti, as quoted by as.com: “That would have been a dream for both of us. He scored a lot of goals but with me playing just behind him, I'm sure he would have scored a lot more",

"I've always said it - the only thing I regret about my career was not having got to play with Ronaldo.

Totti also lamented that the Italian national team won’t be participating in next year’s World Cup.

The former Italy international described the country’s (Italy) from the Word Cup as a ‘Shock’ and said to watch the mundial next year would be strange without the four time champion.

 "It pains me a lot that Italy won't be there,” He added.

“Like every other Italian, I never thought for a second that we might not get through the qualifying rounds.

 

“It was a big shock to the world of football. Watching the World Cup on television is going to be very strange.”

Published in International Watch

65 minutes gone at Wembley and Mauricio Pochettino, perhaps surprisingly, could only applaud, before shaking hands with the about-to-come-on Moussa Dembele. Surprising in the fact that the stadium had been raised to a state of near-cacophony by the home crowd, while Christian Eriksen slid on the turf in delight, the Dane had just put Tottenham three up against the European champions, putting the gloss on a memorable night for Spurs.

In a group where Spurs were hugely considered outsiders when the draw was made in August, this was supposed to be a game where they would be taught a lesson on European football by none other than the champions, as they scrambled to gain a foothold. But they romped to a win here, and sealed their place in the knockout phase with two games to spare. A win that was completely deserved and perhaps should have been with an even bigger, despite the fact that Spurs weren’t at their best.

And therein lies the worry for Zinedine Zidane over his Real Madrid side, the fact that Spurs didn’t have to be at their best to win so comfortably. Los Blancos seem a far cry from the side that swept just about all before them last spring, and a moment late on, when they couldn’t even get their own bodies out of the way as they sought a consolation, just about summed up their evening, even if the manager says he isn’t overly concerned about a second defeat on the bounce. ‘No, I’m not worried, and never will be this season, whatever happens’ said the Frenchman.

But the intensity Real used to show seems to be lacking this term, and in the opening 20 minutes here it was the case, misplaced passes and late arrivals to second balls an embodiment of their unconvincing start to the game, and had Dele Alli made a run towards the six-yard for a Kieran Trippier cross, Spurs would have gone in front. Alli was making his first Champions League of the season, after serving a three-match ban following a dismissal in the Europa League against Gent last February, his last European game at Wembley; and he had received some criticism for his performances this campaign. ‘It’s true that maybe he is disappointed with himself because he’s not been at his best’ said Pochettino, ‘but it is coming’.

And it came on this night; midway through the first half Trippier made another cross to the six-yard area, this time Alli anticipated and was on hand to poke it into the net. That goal seemed to be like a wakeup call for Real, who got on the front foot after falling behind, Ronaldo and Casemiro both forcing Spurs ‘keeper Hugo Lloris into action, but at the other end they had Sergio Ramos to thank for not conceding again. The Spaniards went into the break behind, and as expected, began the second period on the ascendancy, but there was still significant elements of sloppiness in their play, and when there was a needless giveaway of possession in the middle, Alli seized upon it by having the beating of Casemiro before hitting a shot past Kiko Casilla, with the aid of a Ramos deflection.

The euphoria surrounding the second goal had barely died down when Harry Kane played in Eriksen, who had the freedom of the capital to pick his spot and find it with unadulterated calm. Cristiano Ronaldo did manage to grab that consolation for Real eventually, but it did little to mask a frustrating night, Real Madrid’s first ever competitive game at Wembley was one to forget.

Elsewhere:

  • When asked before the game how proud he would be if his side seal qualification with two games to spare, Pep Guardiola said that question could only put to him after the game. But you couldn’t begrudge if that wasn’t what came to their minds right after the game at San Paolo, a breath-taking encounter that saw six goals, a game that went from 1-0 to 1-1, then 1-2, 2-2, and 2-3. A game that could easily have gone to 3-3 but went to 2-4. It was a fitting occasion for Sergio Aguero to go out on his own as Manchester City’s all-time top scorer, the Argentine finishing off a swift counter attack for the fifth goal of the game, his 178th goal for the club. Sadly for Napoli, such a spectacle leaves them on the verge of elimination from the competition.
  • Roma vs Chelsea kick off. A game where a win for Chelsea would put them in the driving seat for qualification in Group C, and hand them a fourth victory on the bounce to further quell of a cris… except, they’re already behind, Stephan El Shaarawy rifling home a howitzer after only 40 seconds. That set the tone for a haunting occasion for the Blues on Halloween night. The 3-0 defeat sees them leapfrogged by opponents in top spot, the second half performance sees talk of an Antonio Conte not going away anytime soon. The only silver lining is Atletico Madrid inexplicably failing to beat Qarabag.
  • We Rule This Land was the message placed out from the stands by the Olympiacos fans at home to Barcelona. Based on the results over the years in their domestic league, spot on. And on Tuesday they did give Ernesto Valverde’s side a game, a combative and rigid approach helping the Greeks to a creditable goalless draw against the La Liga leaders.
  • It seemed like it would be a frustrating night for Liverpool at home to Maribor, as the Reds failed to score in the first half against a side they thumped seven past only a fortnight ago. But Mohammed Salah opened the floodgates just after the break, and the eventual 3-0 victory keeps them top in Group E, even if they missed another penalty at Anfield; that’s three this season.

Results

Group A: Manchester United 2-0 Benfica; Basel 1-2 CSKA Moscow

Group B: PSG 5-0 Anderlecht; Celtic 1-2 Bayern Munich

Group C: Roma 3-0 Chelsea; Atletico Madrid 1-1 Qarabag

Group D: Olympiacos 0-0 Barcelona; Sporting CP 1-1 Juventus

Group E: Liverpool 3-0 Maribor; Sevilla 2-1 Spartak Moscow

Group F: Napoli 2-4 Manchester City; Shakhtar Donetsk 3-1 Feyenoord

Group G: Besiktas 1-1 Monaco; Porto 3-1 RB Leipzig

Group H: Dortmund 1-1 APOEL; Tottenham 3-1 Real Madrid

 

Published in International Watch

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