Pep Guardiola praises Lisandro Martinez ahead of Manchester derby

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has conducted his press conference ahead of the derby clash with Manchester United.

United go into the game three places and five points behind their bitter rivals, but have a game in hand from the recently cancelled match against Leeds.

Guardiola was asked for his thoughts on Lisandro Martinez, who will be tasked with helping to keep Erling Haaland quiet at the Etihad Stadium.

The City boss also namechecked four United midfielders who can hurt his side and help Erik ten Hag earn all three points on Sunday.

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Guardiola press conference before Manchester United match

Guardiola was asked about Lisandro’s height, something which has been brought up by many pundits and reporters and said: “Erling is taller, for sure. You’re right.

“But I like when the people underestimate football players just for their size. He can tell them: ‘I’m here, I’m a good player’. He is a fantastic player.

“Incredible left-foot, good mentality, aggressive. You see his behaviours. If United spend this money for him and Erik of course knows him from Ajax, there is no doubt about (him). It is not the first time he will play against a striker taller than him. He can do it.”

Elsewhere, he said: “Big rivals make you better. We have to play a perfect game. They have the qualities upfront, physicality and quality in the middle with Eriksen, Fernandes; physicality with Casimero and McTominay. United are always like that.”

Martinez has already showcased his talent against Haaland, keeping a clean sheet against him last season in a 4-0 victory for Ajax over Borussia Dortmund.

In that game, Haaland managed just a 6.15 WhoScored rating, with Martinez (7.9) winning four tackles, four interceptions, and making five clearances.

That should give Lisandro even more confidence going into what will be a tough test, and he should be more refreshed after not starting Argentina’s friendly win over Jamaica before returning from the international break.

Raphael Varane also has elite experience up against all kinds of strikers and he will play a huge part if United are to keep Haaland quiet and get the win.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.