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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Simon Mullock

Pep Guardiola surpassing Johan Cruyff thanks to Man City's "out of this world" football

Pep Guardiola has built Manchester City into a team that has taken Johan Cruyff ’s ‘Total Football’ philosophy to another planet.

Cruyff, who died at the age of 68 in 2016, was the coach who shaped Guardiola’s beliefs when the Catalan was a young player emerging through the ranks at Barcelona ’s famed La Masia academy. And, according to the Dutchman’s former team-mate Wim Kieft, Treble-chasing City are hitting heights the game has never previously seen before.

Kieft, now a respected media pundit in Holland, hopes Guardiola will fulfil his destiny in Manchester by making City the champions of Europe. He said: “What everyone on the continent and in the rest of the world saw from Guardiola’s team last week against Arsenal was not normal. It was out of this world!

“The way he gets his team to play is extraordinary. It is pure class and a joy to watch. In fact ‘Guardiola football’ is doing my head in. It is nearing perfection. I almost call it computer football.

“Every ball, every pass, every attack is so incredibly accurate. It is to be hoped that Guardiola does win the Champions League with Manchester City.

“He can even win all three prizes because City also have the national title and the FA Cup to play for. I think City’s two semi-final meetings with Real Madrid will be the highlight of the season.”

HAVE YOUR SAY! Who will win the Champions League this season? Comment below.

Pep Guardiola has been hailed after taking Manchester City four points clear in the title race (Lynne Cameron - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

Kieft, 60, was a Dutch international striker who won the Eredivisie title and Dutch Cup playing alongside Cruyff in the twilight of his brilliant playing career. He recognises exactly what Guardiola has achieved at the Etihad.

Kieft said: “The great thing about Guardiola is that football is not just about winning trophies. Of course he wants to win - but he just makes sure it is always fun to watch his teams.

“At Barcelona, of course, he had Lionel Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. But wherever he has been a manager you immediately see his style. At Bayern Munich, he also set the tone. With the brilliance of his coaching, he can show his influence within one month of taking charge

“His effect on the game has been massive. Guardiola has suffered a few slip-ups in the Champions League with City. But that is because he always wants to invent something new. The way he let his team play against Arsenal just showed how he is above everyone else in the coaching world.”

City were eliminated in the semi-finals by Madrid last season. hey travel to the Bernabeu for Tuesday night’s first leg - and Kieft believes it will be the biggest challenge of their season.

He added: “We have all been writing off Real Madrid for years. But Karim Benzema continues to score like he’s on a conveyor belt, there is still a great midfield, and Vinicius is getting better and better as a striker.

Guardiola has been heavily influenced by former Barcelona manager Johan Cruyff (Internet Unknown)

“But the strength of Guardiola's team is that all the players can play well in the small space and with the combination of Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland, the team has insane quality.

“De Bruyne is not the greatest stylist in world football, but everything he does is so functional. Every pass is at the right speed and there is an idea behind everything. It is just as wonderful to watch how Haaland operates in partnership with De Bruyne.

“Apart from all the goals he has scored for City this season, he knows exactly when to offer himself and plays a big part in his team's attacking play. It will be a huge clash, but Manchester City are favourites for me.”

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