Guardiola expecting tougher Atalanta at San Siro

Milan (AFP) –


Pep Guardiola said his side were expecting a tough clash against Atalanta at the San Siro on Wednesday as Manchester City look to wrap up qualification for the Champions League knockout rounds with two games to spare.

The defending Premier League champions thrashed Atalanta 5-1 at home last month to make it three wins from three in Group C.

"Although it may seem the opposite given the result, we saw in Manchester that Atalanta is a very good team," Guardiola told reporters Tuesday.

"The last time we met the match was very even in the first half.

"Before the first fixture there might have been a danger, but they know now what to expect, they have experienced exactly what it takes to come up against them."

City top their group with maximum points while Atalanta have lost all their three games in their Champions League debut.

A win would also be a boost before next weekend's top-of-the-table clash with Liverpool.

"It's a great week for us because we come to Italy and face Atalanta and then face Liverpool on Sunday," said Guardiola.

"But after that there's still three quarters of the season to play."

"I want to qualify as soon as possible. Try to win tomorrow to be already there, one more year that would be incredible.

"But if not, there is Shakhtar at home and Dinamo Zagreb away and we will see."

Atalanta will again be without influential striker Duvan Zapata, but coach Gian Piero Gasperini still believes they can get a result.

"For us it represents an opportunity for us to stay in the competition," said Gasperini.

"It's important to get a result.

"It's going to be a very tough match but thankfully we start again at 0-0.

"We're going to stay true to the brand of football that has got us this far. Going to try and harness all our ability tomorrow.

"No-one likes conceding a whole lot of goals but we're going to stay true to our brand of football in a prestigious stadium like the San Siro which is known all around the world.

"For us, it represents an opportunity. With a positive result we'll stay in Europe, even if it's in the Europa League."