Guardiola: Man City players still not over Champions League heartbreak
MANCHESTER, England -- Pep Guardiola has said his Manchester City players are still not over their dramatic elimination from the Champions League quarterfinals at the hands of Tottenham, who they face in the Premier League on Saturday.
City suffered injury time heartbreak in midweek when a last minute goal from Raheem Sterling, which would have sent City through, was ruled out by the video assistant referee and Spurs progressed on away goals.
The two sides meet again at the Etihad and City know that if they win their five remain fixtures, they will be crowned champions again.
"If you believe it doesn't hurt, or it's over and forget it, I would say no," Guardiola told a news conference. "I don't want the players to forget what they lived.
"If they forgot what happened on Wednesday that would not be the truth -- they would not be human beings. It will take time but you have to live with that feeling and play with that feeling and it's nice.
"What we lived last Wednesday in terms of emotion and simple life, it was incredible -- we were fortunate to live it. More than 55,000 people went from joy and happiness and within one second everyone was devastated. There is not an activity in this world you can put in these limits.
"Always it will remain in our hearts. The performance we did was incredible at this level. I don't want to see my players saying it doesn't matter what happened, I like to see them that it hurts."
Guardiola said he needs to see how his players have reacted to their exit before deciding on the side to face Mauricio Pochettino's team for a third time in a matter of weeks.
Oleksandr Zinchenko is back in training after the Ukraine international missed the last three games with a hamstring strain.
"We saw each other yesterday and we congratulated each other on the game," Guardiola said of Pochettino. "I hope the [reaction will be] our best, we have five games in the Premier League and an FA Cup game and tomorrow another game against Tottenham and we'll see.
"We'll see today how people recover, mentally and physically from the last game then we'll take a decision tonight as we play early. We'll see."
While City need a 100 percent record to keep the title destiny in their own hands, Spurs are also desperate for the three points as they battle to ensure a top-four finish and a Champions League spot. Tottenham are a point clear of fifth-place Chelsea, who have played a game more.
Pochettino's focus may now have switched to their European semifinal against Ajax but Guardiola is expecting another tough game.
"Both teams are going to attack, them in their way with long balls to Llorente or Lucas Moura picking up second balls and the attacker running in behind," he added.
"We are going to attack with a more positional game but it will not be easy because they are an incredible top team -- we saw it in the last two games -- but we are going to try."