Pep Guardiola has heaped praise on Southampton and their manager Ralph Hasenhuttl after their superb start to the 2020/21 season.
Guardiola’s City side travel to St Mary’s on Saturday afternoon and a intriguing contest could play out given the two teams on show. City have undoubted quality and class, whilst Saints’ excellent setup has caused many teams problems recently.
Saints sit in third place in the table and have deservedly picked up some impressive results in their rise up the standings and it seems their showings have not gone unnoticed.
Speaking to the media ahead of his side’s meeting with Saints, Pep said:
“Southampton have an exceptional manager. I know him a little bit from my time in Germany. He was at many clubs, Leipzig played in a specific style.
“He has experience at the back and one of the best midfielders in the Premier League, [Oriol] Romeu. They have James Ward-Prowse, incredible player in set pieces.
“So no surprise in their success. Southampton for many, many years have been working well – so no surprise.”
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Guardiola’s own record as a manager makes him one of the best there has ever been in football and the fact that he has singled Ralph Hasenhuttl and specific players out for praise means specific parts of Saints’ game have caught the eye.
In many ways, the style that Hasenhuttl has his side’s playing is one that can directly counteract the style that Guardiola has embedded in his teams.
Controlling possession football using players with exquisite ability to carry it out brought huge success to City once their manager’s methods were set. Hasenhuttl’s intense pressing has the potential to break this though by wining the ball back in dangerous positions close to goal.
James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu has undoubtedly formed the key partnership in Saints’ team this season and their discipline will be key if they are to pick up a positive result tomorrow.
The respect that Saints have gained through their performances in the Premier League since their 2012 promotion is also clear in Pep’s comments. If they are to break back into European football though, this respect would be even bigger due to the rebuild under Hasenhuttl recently.