Pep Guardiola happy with Manchester City’s pre-season progress
Pep Guardiola felt Manchester City’s tour of Asia ended in “perfect” fashion as the Premier League champions overcame sister club Yokohama F Marinos.
The two-week trip to the Far East may have had a troubled start with City’s initial flight to China being delayed by two days, but Guardiola was pleased with how things finished in Japan.
City ran out 3-1 winners in front of a lively crowd of 65,052 at the Nissan Stadium after a strong test both from their J-League opponents and the hot and humid conditions.
City now fly straight home to continue preparations for next Sunday’s Community Shield against Liverpool and their Premier League opener at West Ham the following week.
“The game was incredibly tough and it was an incredible test for preparing, not just for Liverpool, but the beginning of the season,” said Guardiola, who cut a tired figure at his post-match press conference.
“It was perfect for us to play this kind of game because if you don’t do what you have to do they have incredible quality and they took a lot of risks. They played so quick and so good and we were in real trouble.”
City were the dominant side in the game and took a deserved lead through Kevin De Bruyne in the 19th minute.
Keita Endo replied quickly for the hosts but City restored their advantage before the break as De Bruyne set up Raheem Sterling with a superb throughball.
Sterling had a second ruled out for offside by the Video Assistant Referee and Claudio Bravo made a fine save to deny Takuya Kida but substitute Lukas Nmecha secured victory by bundling home in injury time.
City have been without Sergio Aguero, Nicolas Otamendi, Fernandinho, Ederson, Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez on tour due to international commitments, although Guardiola is happy with the levels being reached despite their absence.
He is confident there will be no resting on laurels following last season’s domestic treble success.
The Spaniard said: “I know them better so now I don’t have doubts about what they can do.
“I’m not talking about winning or losing but about today, for example, against a team second in the (J-League) table with incredible dynamic, and with our lack of physical condition.
“We made mistakes but that’s good in this period. We are going to solve it and I have no doubts that the team will be ready again to try it.”
De Bruyne, whose 2018-19 season was ravaged by injury, has particularly impressed throughout the tour yet Guardiola felt a number of his team-mates deserved praise.
He said: “Kevin made another great game. It’s important to have his quality for the vision to make the last pass when the opponent defends in a high line.
“Rodri was incredible today. We knew it but today I can assure you we have an incredible holding midfielder for the next decade, or at least the years he will be here with a contract.
“Bernardo (Silva) is back too at his normal level, Sterling continued and John Stones and Ayme (Laporte) are back. These guys played incredibly well in the game here. In general our tour was nice.”