Pep Guardiola used Man City ballboys to stop Atletico Madrid time-wasting in Champions League first leg

PEP GUARDIOLA used Manchester City's ballboys to try and curb Atletico Madrid's time-wasting last night.

The reigning LaLiga champions have gained a reputation for partaking in the "dark arts" during Diego Simeone's tenure with the club.

In an effort to prevent Atleti from time-wasting from the off, Guardiola gave his ballboys very clear instructions.

According to The Athletic, Guardiola told City's ballboys to ensure that new balls were supplied to players immediately whenever it went out of play – even if it was to an Atletico player.

Sometimes ballboys may be a little reluctant to hand the ball quickly to opposition players, because of the risk of counter-attacks catching their team off guard.

This time around, however, Guardiola reportedly recorded a video message for the club's ballboys – telling them that they were to play an "important" role in his tactical plan.

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City's ball kids are taken from their Under-12 and Under 14 sides.

Some are claimed to have joked that they had "never been so nervous in their lives".

The ball boys followed Guardiola's instructions, constantly getting new balls into the hands of Atletico players, as their side won 1-0 in their Champions League quarter-final first leg.

Despite their incredibly negative game plan, at times appearing to play a 5-5-0 formation, Guardiola refused to publicly criticise Simeone and Co.

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He said: "What is ugly? What is playing ugly? I don’t know what playing ugly is.

"My team were winning at Old Trafford 1-0 or 2-0, Bernardo went to the corner and spent four or five minutes in the corner.

"This is ugly? No, it’s not ugly.

"It’s being smart, it’s defending with the ball in the final third to not concede counter-attacks and defending our position. That’s all.

"I’m here to talk about what we do to try to play, I never judge the opponents."

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