Manchester City head coach Gareth Taylor says that his side will be going out to make history when they take on Barcelona in the second leg of their UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-final tie on Wednesday evening.
There are not many teams that get the better of Manchester City and even fewer overwhelm them in the manner that Barcelona did in the first leg last week. The Catalan club overcame their Manchester opponents with a convincing 3-0 victory to put them in pole position to advance to the semi-finals. Nevertheless, Manchester City head coach Taylor believes that his players can perform one of the greatest comebacks in UEFA Women’s Champions League history.
“We’ve given ourselves an uphill task but in terms of me being confident enough to say that we can achieve it, yeah,” Taylor said in his pre-match press conference in which FAWSL Full-Time were present. “Is it going to be difficult? Of course.”
Barcelona have been in electrifying form this season having won every single one of their games in the league thus far, scoring over 100 times and only conceding on three occasions. Consequently, that means that City will have to score more in one match than Barcelona have conceded in their entire league campaign this year, however, Taylor still feels his team is capable of such a feat.
“We’ve proved that we can score goals this season,” he added. “We’re right up there with goals scored, I think we were the first team in the league to 50 goals so we are more than capable.”
The onus is certainly on the English club to come out swinging tomorrow afternoon, however, Taylor has often focused on the need for patience from his players so will he forgo that philosophy in favour of a more high-intensity strategy?
“If we don’t score early on in the first 25 minutes there’s still an opportunity,” he said. “An early goal would be nice but I think the longer the game goes on and we’re still in touch, this team has proven that they can score goals in quick succession.
“We need a lot of elements to go our way tomorrow night but we’ll be trying our best and we’re definitely going to be going for it.”
A notable absence from the fixture for Taylor will be influential captain Steph Houghton who continues her spell on the sidelines. There is also some doubt regarding the fitness of full-back Demi Stokes who was withdrawn from the game against Reading on Saturday with a suspected injury and Taylor provided an update on her condition.
“With Demi, it’s just ongoing that one,” Taylor explained. “We’re just waiting to hear the report on the scan just to see what that looks like for her.
“She won’t feature in tomorrow’s squad unfortunately but outside of that, pretty much everyone has checked in okay.”
That means that there will be two significant defensive absentees for The Cityzens tomorrow which does not bode well given how ruthlessly they were punished in the first leg. What adjustments does Taylor feel his side needs to make in order to keep out such a fierce attacking unit?
“We need to be tighter in not giving away opportunities and I think that’s at times where we need to be a bit more patient on the ball rather than risking it so much,” he said.
If Taylor and his team are somehow able to overcome the monumental task that has been put before them, not only will it send shockwaves through the rest of the competition but it will give them the belief that they can conquer any obstacle in their way.