Former Manchester City midfielder Michael Brown insists the current Carabao Cup holders “won’t get complacent” in Sunday’s final against Aston Villa. following their victory against Real Madrid
The Sky Blues, who came from behind to beat the Spanish giants 2-1 in the Bernabeu on Wednesday night, have had incredible recent success in the tournament, taking home the trophy the past two years and four times in the last six seasons.
Despite this, Brown told Shoot that they’ll be as focussed as ever to ensure the underdogs don’t create a magical Wembley memory.
He said: “They’ll (City will) be confident, but I think that’s one thing they don’t take in, they don’t get complacent.
“Guardiola will be no different with his preparation, he’ll be looking at Villa’s and their own weaknesses, what they can improve on – that’s what the club do.”
Their midweek heroics in their Champions League last-16 first-leg match in Madrid will give them further confidence ahead of what is their fifth domestic cup final appearances in the past five seasons.
But the win could yet provide Guardiola with a selection headache, as striker Gabriel Jesus started and netted the crucial equaliser on 78 minutes.
Typically, the Spaniard tends to opt for one striker – a position that could be reserved for City’s all-time record goalscorer Sergio Aguero, but Brown thinks both could feature.
“It’s different when you play Real Madrid as you probably aren’t going to have as much possession.
“When City played Villa recently, Guardiola actually played Jesus through the left, Sergio Aguero and Riyad Mahrez, so he could definitely play both at the top of the pitch.”
With the wealth of attacking options at his disposal, it’s no wonder City are widely tipped to lift the trophy for a third successive year.
Despite returning to training, Leroy Sane is unlikely to feature as he recovers from injury, but Guardiola still has an abundance of talent to task with unlocking the Villa defence.
“You would have to say Kevin De Bruyne will have an influence Sunday, looking at what he does on a regular occasion.
“Raheem Sterling, what will he feature in it? These are the types who could be key.
“You know they’re going to control the possession; they went for them at Villa Park and I don’t think it will be much different, put the chances away and be careful Villa don’t create opportunities.”
Most likely to be the man creating those opportunities; Jack Grealish has already scored twice and assisted two in four Carabao Cup games this season.
The 24-year-old has also claimed plaudits for his seven-goal Premier League season, and Brown feels silencing him will be key.
“There’s no question, Grealish has great ability and creates opportunities.
“City will look at that and think what are the areas that he takes up? Who’s your holding midfielder covering or getting across the wide areas, depending on where he fits.”
City will be more than accustomed to playing under the iconic Wembley arch with five consecutive cup final victories since 2013/14, but Brown, who won the 1999 Second Division play-off Final at the old stadium with City, insists it’s always a big occasion.
“I think it’s a special stadium and everyone’s boyhood dream, when they walk out onto the pitch and the atmosphere’s building up, they’ll be really looking forward to it.”
Watch the Carabao Cup final highlights on Sunday on Quest at 9pm. Catch-up and stream live on dplay.