Football NewsPep Guardiola Admits Concerns Over Young Boys’ Plastic Pitch
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Pep Guardiola has hit out at having to play on artificial surfaces as Manchester City prepare to tackle a plastic pitch in Bern tonight.

The Champions League winners can ease towards the knockout stages with victory in the first of a double-header with Young Boys in a stadium that has prompted criticism. Manchester United have twice complained about the pitch, in 2018 and 2021, and a concerned Guardiola claimed that he was left ‘hoping’ for no fresh injuries ahead of Sunday’s derby at Old Trafford.

‘Grass is better,’ the City boss said. ‘Because 99.9 per cent of the teams who play in high level play on grass, otherwise UEFA and FIFA would decide to play on artificial pitches. It’s common sense.’

Guardiola took the unusual step of having his team train out in Bern tonight, which goes against their habit of holding a session at home before travelling. ‘This is an exception,’ he said.

‘Any team that plays here is not used to it. It suits the Swiss league and in the Champions League the teams that come here have to adapt. We will not be the first in this situation. If UEFA allows games to be played here it’s because it’s in good condition.’

Jack Grealish is pushing for a start, with much debate as to whether Jeremy Doku’s form since signing from Rennes has nudged aside the England star who has just returned from injury.

‘I don’t have any doubt about Jack and his quality,’ Guardiola said. ‘We need him. We cannot wait for him to get rhythm, so he has to do training and continue, he’ll get there.’

Guardiola hinted Grealish needs longer rehabilitation from setbacks than team-mates and told the 28-year-old to start fighting his way into the side.

‘His body needs rhythm because he’s strong, he’s not like Phil (Foden) or Bernardo (Silva) who only need two or three training sessions.

‘We are going to use him when we believe he is going to help us.

‘Everybody knows he is in competition (with Doku) so he has to fight.

‘It is strange, you are competitors and enemies during the week and then you have to be brothers at the weekend.’

Meanwhile, City defender Manuel Akanji hit out at refereeing standards after his red card in Saturday’s win over Brighton.

Akanji was sent off late on for a second yellow card for bringing down Ansu Fati and misses the clash with Manchester United.

‘It wasn’t even a foul,’ the defender said. ‘I touched him a little bit on the hip but let go of him.

‘He takes two steps, falls down, and the ref thinks it’s a second yellow.’