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Pep Talk: “Always is a nice atmosphere. I remember perfectly well in Croatia.

UCL group play is here.

West Ham United v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Champions League is back! The group stage begins as City look to hold serve and defend their title.

A really good test as we host Red Star. A fun match and Pep Guardiola had a lot to say ahead of this one.

“I remember Red Star. I remember when I was a young boy, Maradona playing there and make a goal when he kicked the ball over the keeper,” he explained.

“I remember that fresh in my memory and the amazing squad.

“Always is a nice atmosphere. I remember perfectly well in Croatia. The culture for Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro this kind. Lovely countries and they have an incredible mentality.

“They are competitors. All the incredible athletes water polo, look now Djokovic all the incredible athletes. All the competitors. I don’t know why but for the schools for the kids they have something special.

“[They are] so aggressive. In some moments they don’t defend man to man. Sometimes they defend man to man. We have to be ready. [They are] quick in the transitions good runners.

“Typical system a 5-3-2 when they attack or a 5-2-3 with a lot of players in the final third. We have to be able to read well what we have to do tomorrow.

“Well I saw last season [Bakhar was] with Maccabi Haifa in a difficult group against Juventus, Benfica and PSG.

“What I saw, because we saw a little bit, my staff analayse what he has done with Maccabi Haifa against Mbappe, Messi and Neymar for example. Very impressed with the courage and bravery to play against them. Doesn’t matter what happened.

“We think tomorrow is going to be quite similar.”

“Every season we start the competition with the first game and always the target is to win the first one, qualify from the group stage, for the last-16 and try to win the Champions League,” he said.

“Nothing changes from before when we didn’t win it or now we won it last season, nothing changes.

“There’s no more [priority] than Red Star tomorrow, it depends on our performance and level what happens.

“Of course we are incredibly happy to try to defend this crown but this competition won’t allow you many mistakes.

“The success we had in group stages is because of the success we had at home. never miss one shot except in the first year against Lyon.

“Always we are so strong at home, making nine points from nine and when that happens and win just one game away you qualify. Tomorrow is the first step. And hopefully we can continue, convince the players we are serious, always we’ve done it, no matter the opponents and we try to get the first three points.

Let’s have a fun one here.