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Pep Guardiola hits back at criticism of behaviour from Sergio Conceicao

Xenia Sports – London 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has hit back at Sergio Conceicao’s criticism of his behaviour ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Porto.

Porto boss Conceicao accused Guardiola and has a backroom staff of attempting to influence officials following the first Group C meeting between the two clubs at the Etihad Stadium in October.

“I’ve got a lot to learn from Pep Guardiola in the way he pressures referees, talks to opposition players and the opposition dugout,” said Conceicao after City came from behind to win 3-1. “We were angels compared to the other dugout.”

Guardiola insists he has never acted in such a way throughout his managerial career.

He said: “I’m not agreeing. It’s his opinion but I don’t agree. We didn’t pressure the referee.

“History speaks for itself. We are not this type of team to do this kind of thing.

“I would admit if there’s an action you do not agree (with) you can make any comment with the assistant referee but that’s one specific action. It’s not a part of who we are.

“The five years we are here – and before then in Germany or Spain – our behaviour speaks for itself. I’m just saying I don’t agree. It’s not true.”

City have won three further games since their hard-fought victory over Porto on matchday one to secure their place in the last 16.

For them, clinching top spot is all that is at stake in their remaining two games but Porto still need a point to join City in the knockout stages.

Guardiola is expecting another physical encounter against the Portuguese side at the Estadio do Dragao.

He said: “Yes, it will be a tough, physical game for sure. It was here (in Manchester) and I saw their game against Marseille. They have an incredible team spirit, they fight for each other.

“Their physicality is outstanding and it will be tough. But that’s normal, it’s the Champions League away.”

City will again be without record goalscorer Sergio Aguero. The striker has been suffering discomfort in his knee since the weekend and missed Saturday’s 5-0 Premier League victory over Burnley.

The Argentinian’s return from knee surgery in the summer has already been complicated by a hamstring injury and the club are unwilling to take risks now, even if the problem is minor.

Guardiola said: “I am not concerned. He did not train. He had a little disturbance in his knee. It is nothing serious but he didn’t train.”

City not only put aside their goalscoring issues aside in their impressive weekend win but further improved their strong recent defensive record. City, who bolstered their defensive resources with the signings of Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake in the summer, have conceded just six goals in their last 12 games.

Goalkeeper Ederson said: “Our defence is more consistent now. We are developing little by little.

“It doesn’t happen from one day to the other. It requires time but we have more players and less injuries than last season.”

Ederson, who joined Guardiola at the pre-match press conference, also made clear he was available should City’s penalty-taking problems of last season resurface.

The Brazilian said: “I don’t train free-kicks but I train for penalties. I am the best penalty-taker but I am not chosen to take them!”

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