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Pep Guardiola plays down Manchester City’s treble chances

Southampton v Manchester City – Emirates FA Cup – Quarter Final – St Mary’s Stadium
(Image credit: Andrew Matthews)

Pep Guardiola wants his side to return injury-free from the international break but played down talk of Manchester City’s chances of winning the treble.

Phil Foden scored a stunning strike as City booked their place in the FA Cup semi-finals with a 4-1 win over Southampton at St Mary’s on Sunday.

Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne (penalty) and Riyad Mahrez were also on target for the visitors, with Aymeric Laporte’s own goal levelling the scores just before half-time.

Guardiola believes winning the treble would not be an easy feat, and remains focused on the more short-term goals of his side.

“How many times has it happened in this country? Once in this lifetime, once. It’s not easy,” the Manchester City manager said.

“It’s better to hopefully pray that the players come back from the national teams fit because it’s tough to fight, fight, fight for many things.

“Now the players have 15 days off and they arrive (back) two days before they have to play Burnley, Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, then Atletico Madrid.

“When you have 10 points clear to the second (placed team in the Premier League) with three games to play and are in the finals of the Champions League and the FA Cup, after (that) we can talk about that (the treble).

“But in the position that we are (in) it’s far, far away (from the treble), the best intention is to be focused on Burnley.”

Guardiola admitted that everyone needs a break, with City not due to play again until April 2 against Burnley after they secured an enticing FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool at Wembley.

“We are there so I think everyone needs a little break, to not see each other for a while would be good, to see new faces for the manager, some players will go on holiday for one week,” Guardiola said.

Southampton v Manchester City – Emirates FA Cup – Quarter Final – St Mary’s Stadium

Kevin De Bruyne (right) put City 2-1 ahead from the penalty spot on Sunday (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“And after we come back we know what we have, we have the quarter-finals of the Champions League, we have the Premier League, we have the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

“The nice thing for the team is that fact, the last few weeks of the season and we are fighting for it, we are there for the titles and this is so nice.

“I would have signed (up for that) at the start of the season – to be here in front of you, in the later stages, in this position. We’ll see what happens.”

Southampton v Manchester City – Emirates FA Cup – Quarter Final – St Mary’s Stadium

Ralph Hasenhuttl is welcoming the international break (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Ralph Hasenhuttl also is welcoming the international break, as his side head into it on the back of four successive defeats in all competitions.

“The international break always comes at a good time. It is an intense time. It is good to have,” the Southampton manager said.

“(We will) recover. Recharge the batteries. We have nine games to go.

“(We) have work to do to finish as high as possible. We need this break now to get a bit of rest and we come back with full batteries ready to go.”

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