Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp provided his deepest sympathies to Manchester City squad and manager Pep Guardiola after the news broke out that the Citizens have been banned from the UEFA competitions for two years.
UEFA’s decision of debarring City from European competitions came after the club was found guilty of breaching "serious" financial fair-play. Guardiola’s side are indeed planning to appeal against the ban, but only has 10 days to take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“It was a shock when I heard [the news]‚” Klopp said in his post-match conference.
“I saw the headline, but I have no idea how these kind of things work, how [a punishment like City’s] happens. What I can say, as a football coach, is that under Pep Guardiola City play sensational football. I have always admired what they do and how they do it.
“To be honest I feel for Pep and the players. Wow. They did, for sure, nothing wrong. Wherever Pep was he has helped each league to improve. But then, in the end, we all have to respect some rules and I have no idea if they did or not, but obviously UEFA sees it like this that they didn't, and we will see what happens.
"One can imagine that it is really hard at the moment for the sports people; you trust your people, they tell you it is fine, but UEFA see things slightly different and now they have to deal with it.
"I have no idea what will happen next. I've seen a few things, obviously City will appeal, but I can imagine there will be much more information and people will talk about it.”
City, meanwhile, face Real Madrid in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League; a competition where they have never progressed beyond the semi-finals. Under Guardiola, never beyond the quarter-finals. Speaking about his tenure, the Catalan already mentioned that his job will be on line if his team fail to beat the 13-time champions, and Zinedine Zidane mentioned that City’s motivation will be ‘immense’ in this year’s competition.
"It's a rival who are going to be very, very difficult," said the Frenchman.
"For what has happened, their motivation will be immense.
"I'm not going to go into what happened, what is going to happen.
"It's a team, anyway, who will be a difficult opponent, knowing also how they have been doing in the Premier League. So they will have extra motivation."
Furthermore, former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock and former Everton midfielder Leon Osman too spoke in the context.
"A lot of players will see it as the last opportunity to win it with Manchester City for however many years," Warnock told BBC Sport.
"They will leave the club if they win that trophy because they'll want to win it somewhere else, you get that hunger to win it.
"I think the fans will have a different mindset, you know what it's like when they go to the Etihad, they already boo the Champions League anthem so will that play on the players' minds? But for the players they will be desperate to win that trophy."
The latter said, 'Maybe it can inspire them. "If they weren't adamant about trying to win it this season, maybe it will give them the extra spirit to win it now."
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Adrian Dennis