Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes Claudio Bravo is among the best goalkeepers in the world will the ball at his feet, but remains unsure about picking him.
Bravo was recalled for his first Premier League appearance since January 21 as Hull City were beaten 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Asked why he had recalled Bravo at the expense of Willy Caballero, Guardiola compared Bravo to Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer.
“I decide that. I will decide game by game and today I decided that,” Guardiola told reporters.
“Claudio is the best goalkeeper in the world, with Ter Stegen and Manuel Neuer, in terms of the build-up with the feet. He help us a lot to create good build-up.”
Chile international Bravo went into the match with an unwanted record of failing to save the last six shots on target he had faced in league matches.
Unfortunately for him, that run was extended to seven, as he allowed Andrea Ranocchia’s tame shot to squeeze past him five minutes from the end for Hull’s consolation goal.
City were in command by that stage, with Ahmed Elmohamady’s own goal followed in the second half by strikes from Sergio Aguero and Fabian Delph.
The pick of City’s goals was their second, a sumptuous passing move that ended with Raheem Sterling darting to the byline and cutting the ball back for Aguero to squeeze a shot through a clutch of Hull defenders.
Guardiola, though, was unhappy at the manner in which City conceded late on.
“Maybe the second goal is the big example of what we would like to be,” he said.
“But in terms of how we defend, the goal for Hull City is what has happened that season in our box. It is not about having the quality to defend, it is about the mentality.
“I don’t like the defenders to just defend and the strikers just to score goals. I like everybody involved in the way we want to play.
“The problem is that in attack we have a little bit of a problem to score goals. Defensively it is about mentality and on many, many occasions, we are not strong enough.”
City remain in fourth place, and on course to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
But Guardiola is of the view that his team will have to go to the final match of the campaign to secure that prize.
“I am pretty sure it is going to go to the end,” he said. “We are going to fight against Arsenal and (Manchester) United and Liverpool to qualify. You have to know that.”
Hull head coach Marco Silva acknowledged his team, who managed just the one shot on target, were second best.
They remain outside the relegation places because Swansea City lost 1-0 at West Ham United, but Silva was nonetheless disappointed.
“Manchester City deserved to win,” he said. “We didn’t put on a very good performance this afternoon.
“We were unlucky with the way we conceded the first goal and we had a good chance after that through Evandro to score.
“We tried to change things to cause more problems for our opponents, but they scored to finish the game and then they controlled the match.”
Manchester, United Kingdom | AFP