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They were there like animals – Pep Guardiola wants City team and fans together

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola believes it is crucial the team and the fans continue to feed off each other’s energy.

Guardiola feels that after his players provided the initial spark last season, it was the power of supporters that propelled City towards their treble success.

“The stadium is all the time full and we have to play as best as possible and create as much as possible to energise and make our people with us,” said Guardiola at a press conference.

“I have the feeling the team is playing really good and these guys – what they have done for many, many years, we love doing it together.

“The games last season – semi-finals, quarter-finals, important games like against Arsenal when we played for the Premier League, they were there like animals and we need that.

“In my humble opinion, to be successful we need our fans, all the time, being here. Thank you for coming, because without that it is impossible. Together we are stronger.

“It is much better for ourselves to feel that they are there. We play better but we have to do the first steps, the first gesture. We have to do it.”

City host German side RB Leipzig on Tuesday needing just a draw to wrap up top spot in Champions League Group G.

The holders have won the first four matches of their title defence and have already secured a place in the knockout stages, as have Leipzig – a side they thrashed 7-0 at home last season.

Guardiola said: “Of course the first step is done for both sides – so congratulations to Leipzig – to qualify for the next round in February.

“But it is important to finish first for prestige, for everything. We believe that when we play the last 16, having the second leg at home is not decisive but is a little bit of an advantage and we have to take it.”

Midfielder Jack Grealish is unlikely to return after illness while Mateo Kovacic and Matheus Nunes are nursing knocks.

Guardiola said: “I’m not much optimistic about good news about some people coming back but we will see. I think it will be the same people who played against Liverpool.”

Defender John Stones was an unused substitute at the weekend but while Guardiola said he was “really, really close” he was “not ready for playing”.

Kevin De Bruyne, who has been out since undergoing hamstring surgery in August, said over the weekend he hopes to return to action early in the new year.

Guardiola said: “If he said January, it will be January. I would have loved to have him all season but now he has had a tough injury and surgery. He has to recover well.

“He’s said end of December, new year, so it will be a happy new year for everyone.”

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