Stadium shouldn't give Spurs extra grounds for optimism - De Bruyne

Hectic: Kevin De Bruyne says the fixture schedule is too busy to entertain thoughts of winning a quadruple. Photo: Reuters

Kevin De Bruyne has emphatically dismissed suggestions that the atmosphere at Tottenham Hotspur's new stadium could have any impact on tomorrow's Champions League quarter-final.

Manchester City continued their pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple with victory over Brighton in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final, but the two-legged European tie against Spurs is expected to provide a much greater challenge.

It will be the first European tie at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which opened this month. Much has been made of the positive impact the return to White Hart Lane will have on Mauricio Pochettino's team, but De Bruyne rejected the idea that it would be anything out of the ordinary for the visitors.

"I don't think there will be any difference," De Bruyne said. "They will probably be a little bit more excited, but in the end it's a stadium with supporters. If they go to Wembley with 80,000 or go there, it's going to be the same. It will be a tough game, but I think we will be all right. I don't care about the stadium. I care about the team we play.

"Everybody talks about the stadium like it's something special. Everybody has a stadium. Everybody has supporters. They will be up for it."

It was at this stage of last season's Champions League that City were blown away by Liverpool at Anfield in the first leg of their quarter-final, but De Bruyne insisted there are no lessons to be learned from that.

"Different team, different year, different players," the Belgium midfielder said. "Last year, we had a great season. We did not make it beyond the quarter-finals. That's it."

City will need to recover quickly from their FA Cup exertions, where, despite a 1-0 defeat, Brighton produced an impressive performance to push them until the final minute, despite conceding an early goal to Gabriel Jesus.

April will be a demanding month for Pep Guardiola's side, with a glut of fixtures in the coming weeks. City were late to leave the Wembley dressing room because most of the squad were already receiving massages in an attempt to be ready for tomorrow.

Asked if the quadruple would be possible, De Bruyne said: "There is no point thinking about it. You know how heavy the fixture schedule is? I think people underestimate how the fixtures come that quickly. You can't think about it.

"We don't even have time to have a rest ourselves, so how can we think about what's going to happen in four weeks? We are just going to play on Tuesday and then hopefully play a good game."

De Bruyne's views on City's physical exertions were echoed by his manager, who was quick to point out that Spurs would have had since Wednesday to prepare for their Champions League meeting.

"We don't have too much time to tell ourselves, 'Oh, it's so good, how nice is everything'," said Guardiola. "The only focus right now is, don't drink one drop of beer or alcohol, rest, eat good, regeneration the day after tomorrow and prepare for the game against one of the best teams in the Premier League and Europe when they had six days to prepare and we had two and a half.

"Every day, we lose players. I don't know if Kyle Walker will be fit, but when you play this amount of games in all competitions, it's because when you win the Carabao Cup you play a lot of games before, and the other teams are out.

"Maybe one day, we will have six days and our opponent will have two or three. It's the fixtures."

Walker was taken off at half-time, but Brighton boss Chris Hughton felt that the City man should have been sent off during the first half after a coming together with Brighton's Alireza Jahanbakhsh, but avoided a red card following a Video Assistant Referee review.

"In my opinion, it was a red card," Hughton said. "We ask the players to be honest.


"Alireza doesn't make a big meal of it. We certainly would have seen in the past players clutching their head, rolling on the floor, so I don't think he makes a big deal of it.

"But certainly if I look at the action, which I have done, there would have been numerous circumstances where that exact same action would have got somebody a red card.

"I think there was sufficient force in the action to warrant that."

Asked if the unsuccessful VAR review made it all the more galling, the Brighton boss said: "Yes, because I think we're at a stage now where everybody is pushing for it.

"I'm probably one that has been converted a little bit and I am still not sure how far it is going to take us. But, yes, I'm even more disappointed with the fact this was a VAR (decision)."

But amid the natural disappointment of losing a second ever FA Cup semi-final was pride in Brighton's display.

"I am incredibly proud," Hughton said. "After conceding after three minutes I don't think there was anyone in the stadium that thought the second wasn't going to come.

"We hung in and to go through the 90 minutes and, apart from the goal, I struggle to think of a real clear chance.

"That wouldn't have happened often, if at all, to them this season." (© Daily Telegraph, London)