LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Pep Guardiola believes his Manchester City team are capable of turning around a 3-0 first-leg deficit in their Champions League quarter-final with Liverpool and says he will convince his players they can fight back in the tie.
Three first-half goals at Anfield left the Premier League’s runaway leaders reeling and although they regained their composure in the second half, their failure to score an away goal could prove to be decisive.
“In this room I think there is nobody except the guy talking to you who believes we can go through,” Guardiola told reporters.
“There are 90 minutes more, we are going to try. I believe a lot in this team. They show me many good things in the season,” said the Spaniard, whose team can clinch the Premier League with a win over Manchester United on Saturday.
“We have 90 minutes all of us (in the competition), Sevilla, Juventus and us. We are going to try. It is so complicated because we are going to play a top, top team. Now it is tough,” he added.
Guardiola’s players looked shell-shocked after goals from Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mane put the home side 3-0 up inside 31 minutes.
Such was Liverpool’s first-half dominance that the Spanish coach may need more than positive talk to get his squad back in the right frame of mind to take on Juergen Klopp’s side at the Etihad on Tuesday.
“Nobody believes we will go through. We will convince ourselves tomorrow,” said the City manager.
Guardiola altered his normal formation and left Raheem Sterling on the bench, with midfielder Ilkay Gundogan brought into the starting lineup.
That seemed to contradict his pre-match promise that his team would not change their attacking approach despite their January loss at Anfield in the league.
He said he had made the switch in order to have more control of midfield possession but when asked if the tactical change had worked, the Spaniard was blunt: “We lost 3-0.”
Tactics and selection aside, City were simply blown away by Liverpool’s swift, direct attacks, although Guardiola thought the hosts had only a limited period of dominance.
“Did we arrive here a little bit scared? We arrived with a huge personality. Except 10-15 minutes in the first half when we lost a bit of control... from my point of view, we did really well,” he said.
“Here at Anfield it is always complicated. Until 2-0 we were there. In the second half we reacted. We did well. We could not create chances because they defended deep but we were there for the last pass. We needed one goal and we couldn’t score it,” he said.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Toby Davis