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Pep Guardiola confident Man City will not face Champions League ban

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Pep Guardiola is confident Manchester City will not be banned from playing in next season’s Champions League, despite suggestions they may have broken UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.

Football Leaks claimed in November that City had inflated their sponsorship income in order to comply with UEFA’s break-even rules.

Manchester City settled an FFP case with UEFA in 2014 and accepted a £49m fine but UEFA has stated recently it would re-open cases if new information came to light and UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin confirmed on Sunday he would take action if rules had been broken.

Despite such concerns, Guardiola appeared confident they will be eligible to compete in European competition next season, although he insisted the matter ultimately remains in the hands of UEFA.

“We will not be banned. This is what I think,” he said.

“I trust my chairman, my CEO, when they explain to me and I trust them.

“If it happens because UEFA decide it, we accept it and move forward.”

Of more immediate concern is Saturday’s trip to Stamford Bridge, where a 1-0 win at then-champions Chelsea in September 2017 helped boost confidence at City and convinced the players they were strong enough to win the Premier League.

Guardiola’s side ended up winning the title with a 100-point tally, 19 points clear of second-placed Manchester United, and Guardiola is convinced that victory in west London was of crucial importance.

“In perspective, winning there was more than three points,” added Guardiola.

“It showed that we could do it. It was an important step last season, it was the first important game away.

“They were champions at that moment and it was important to say, ‘yes, we can go anywhere and put in a good performance’. Since then, we have continued and the target is to try and do it again.

“In these kinds of games – of course we want to win – but it is our behaviour and how we are as a team that is most important.

“By tomorrow, we will have played against, hypothetically, the five strongest teams in the Premier League [Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal], four away [from home], and tomorrow is the last one.

“At home we have been solid, scoring a lot of goals and creating a lot of chances. Away, maybe against Tottenham was not our best performance, but we compete as a solid team and that is a good thing.”

Influential playmaker Kevin De Bruyne remains on the sidelines as he continues his recovery from a knee injury, although Guardiola is hopeful he will return to training next week.

Guardiola believes his squad has enough strength in depth to cope without the Belgium international, however, and was keen not to put too much pressure on him ahead of his return.

“I would prefer to have Kevin but we try not to put all the pressure on one player,” he said.

“He is coming back in the next days or weeks, but we have to move forward. Kevin was incredible last season but [Ilkay] Gundogan, Bernardo [Silva], those players that play in his position, they are outstanding.

“Kevin coming back will put pressure on those players and he will receive pressure from the players who are playing if he wants to take their place.

“Our target as managers around the world is to bring out the best in players and competition between them is the best thing.”

(c) Sky News 2018: Pep Guardiola confident Man City will not face Champions League ban