Pep Guardiola says that retaining the FA Cup would be the perfect preparation for the Manchester City Champions League meeting with Real Madrid. City will face Real in their last round of 16 match during the end-of-season mini-tournament on August 7 and, after losing their Premier League title to Liverpool last Thursday, they are determined to hold on to the FA Cup.
They took an important step yesterday when they booked a Cup semi-final date against Arsenal by beating Newcastle 2-0 at St James’ Park, and Guardiola is eager for his team to finish the season on top. The draw with Arsenal will be on July 18 or 19 and the FA Cup final is scheduled for August 1.
He said: “We are delighted after the loss against Chelsea to be back in London at Wembley. It is always an amazing trophy and it gives us an extra bonus. We talk after what happened in the Premier League: we need two more wins to qualify for the Champions League. But we have two competitions that we can win. We took the first step today. It will be good to arrive against Real Madrid in the best conditions. Winning this title would be the best way to prepare for Madrid. ” City, which has already retained the League Cup, led Real 2-1 from the first leg.
The city dominated Tyneside, but he needed a gift from Fabian Schär to open the scoring. The defender unnecessarily pushed Gabriel Jesus into the box to give Kevin De Bruyne the opportunity to celebrate his 29th birthday with a 37-minute penalty and he duly forced him.
Despite his inferiority, Newcastle should have equalized, but substitute Dwight Gayle shot at point-blank with 66 minutes to go and Raheem Sterling made him pay almost immediately with a clean end to conclude the victory.
Guardiola said: “It was a fantastic goal from Raheem. To the pity, I didn’t see the review. Gabriel Jesús could have directed the ball and I think the opponent pushed him. De Bruyne is definitely trustworthy and hopefully he can continue because we’ve struggled a lot this season with this. ”
It was a disappointing night for Steve Bruce, who admitted that his team’s display in the first half had not been good enough. “When you play against teams like this, you can’t make the kind of mistake we’ve made for the penalty kick,” the Newcastle coach said. “Unfortunately, we gave a poor, poor pity.”
“In the second half, we were much better and brighter and the big turning point. Could we have made a really good draw if we had tied? Who knows if we could have continued from there, but we certainly were better in the second half.”