Pep Guardiola has praised Wolves as ‘incredible’ as Manchester City prepare to face them in the Premier League Asia Trophy final.
Wolves meet City in Shanghai on Saturday after beating Newcastle 4-0 on Wednesday in the semi-final in Nanjing. City coach Guardiola is well aware of the threat Nuno Espirito Santo’s side present. The teams drew 1-1 at Molineux last season while Wolves’ excellent record against the top six helped them to seventh place. The Spaniard says his team will use the game to try to step up their match fitness.
“We play against an opposition who did incredible last season,” said Guardiola. “We are here to try to get our best level as soon as possible. We know how they play and it’s just a friendly. We will try to do a good game and show our principles and what we want to do for the rest of the season. It’s a friendly but it’s an official game against Premier League team, that’s the reason why they are here.”
Temperatures in China have been around 37 degrees C and the humidity is also very high, making it difficult to train well. The game kicks off at lunchtime in the UK (12.30pm), but at 7.30pm in China. Guardiola explained the difficulties City were facing. “Here we don’t sleep during the day and try to sleep during the night, here we survive,” he said. “We cannot train and keep our energy for the match day.”
Like Wolves, City have brought plenty of youngsters on the trip and Guardiola intends to give them a chance in the final. “We are delighted to bring these young players and give them minutes, but the main reason is because the calendar is exhausted,” he added. “When we arrived here, Brazil and Argentina were still playing, so we have to give those players time to rest but we have to play games with jet lag and humidity, after 23 hours’ flying. It’s good for the young players but we don’t have another alternative.”
Wolves, who are in talks to sign Milan striker Patrick Cutrone, 21, are again without Matt Doherty (knee), Raul Jimenez and Romain Saiss, who are still in their breaks after international duty and not due to return to start pre-season training until next week.