Club World Cup can help Manchester City get season back on track, says Rodri

Midfielder urges focus after European champions set up final clash against Fluminense in Saudi Arabia

Rodri of Manchester City, right, is challenged by Jose Kante of Urawa Reds during the Fifa Club World Cup semi-final. Getty Images
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Manchester City midfielder Rodri says the Fifa Club World Cup offers them a chance to reset and attack the rest of the season, insisting the English and European champions will not panic about their current Premier League form.

City came into their debut global tournament off the back of Saturday’s disappointing 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace, in which they let slip a two-goal lead.

The result meant they have won only once in six Premier League games to fall to fourth, five points off leaders Arsenal after 17 games.

However, Pep Guardiola’s side got back to winning ways in Jeddah on Tuesday night, when they marked their first Club World Cup match with a 3-0 semi-final victory against Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds.

The triumph booked City a place in the final on Friday against South American champions Fluminense of Brazil.

Speaking immediately after defeating Urawa, Rodri told reporters: “Of course, after when we came, the last game, there was a really bad feeling in the changing room. But it was good to stop a little bit and then come here to the Club World Cup.”

At King Abdullah Sports City, City struggled initially to break down Urawa before an own goal from Norwegian defender Marius Hoibraten in first-half stoppage time broke the deadlock.

City then pulled away from their rivals in the second half, with Mateo Kovacic and Bernardo Silva scoring in the space of seven minutes before the hour mark.

“We have to focus on every game, that’s it, go game by game, don’t think much about what’s coming,” Rodri said. “I said to the lads to just focus on today, don’t think on points or anything else. We have a massive opportunity to win an incredible trophy, new for us, the Club World Cup.

“We’re in the final, it was tough to arrive here. So let’s do our best to try to win it.”

City head into Friday’s final in search of a fifth trophy of the calendar year having already captured the Premier League, FA Cup, Uefa Champions League and Uefa Super Cup.

“This is one of the things that we fight for,” said Rodri, who also tasted international success this summer in the Nations League with Spain. “We have to give our best to try and win everything, because it’ll be history.

“We’re focused on this, just on the final. If we win it, it will be an amazing run, these five titles in the year.”

On Fluminense, he added: “We saw the [2-0 semi-final win against Egypt’s Al Ahly on Monday]. We know how Brazilian teams are, very passionate, great effort, they have quality.

“So we have to be aware of that and try to do our best, especially if we want to win.”

While City clearly hope to return to England victorious, they could be as far as 10 points off the Premier League summit by the time they next play. Liverpool, currently second, have two matches in the interim, with the first a huge home game against Arsenal on Saturday.

Yet Rodri said: “We don’t panic. As I said before, we don’t think much on the table – it will be bad for us. We have to just focus on ourselves, keep calm.

“Even the first part of the season hasn’t finished yet. We keep calm, we recover the players [Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne are among those on their way back from injury], and to be honest, don’t ask me about the others, just ask me about my team.

“We’re trying to regroup and go again. This is the most important.”

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Updated: December 20, 2023, 6:48 AM