Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola faced the media on Tuesday afternoon ahead of his side’s crucial Champions League semi-final second-leg clash with Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. The tie is finely balanced after a 1-1 draw in the first leg at the Etihad Stadium, with City needing to score at least one goal to have a chance of reaching their second Champions League final under Guardiola.
Here are some of the key quotes from Guardiola’s press conference:
On his legacy
“My legacy is already exceptional! Here for many times already, we are not stupid to know how important tomorrow is. Maybe the most important since we’ve been here. I say to the players, live it, enjoy the moment. How fortunate we are. It’s in our hands, depends on us, don’t have to do anything exceptional. Be ourselves, give everything. I have an incredible feeling about the team. Whatever happens, thank you for bringing us here to be again.”
Guardiola said he was proud of his achievements at City, where he has won four Premier League titles, four League Cups and one FA Cup so far. He said he was aware of the significance of the game against Real Madrid, but urged his players to enjoy it and be themselves.
On improving from their first leg performance
“The emotion is there and has to be high, but you have to have a game plan and be better than we were in the first leg.
“We need to get more balls into our strikers, and this is the challenge. We embrace it, and we are ready to go for it.
“We have to play much better. All we have to do is what we have done for many years, but it has to be better than the game at the Bernabeu.”
Guardiola praised Real Madrid’s European pedigree and said they were a formidable opponent in the Champions League. He said he respected their quality and experience, but also expressed his confidence in his own team.
On what it takes to beat Real Madrid, the “kings of the Champions League”
“I don’t know why Real Madrid are the kings of the Champions League. If I knew I would copy it. They always have great players.”
“Emotion is there and will be high. Has to be high. Just this is not going to beat a team like Real Madrid. We need a bit better game plan, adjust a little bit. Create more chances or be our strikers – get more balls in easy positions.”
Guardiola said he expects a high-intensity game with a lot of emotion from both sides. He said he wanted his team to play with passion, but also with intelligence and discipline. He said he hoped his team would create more chances and be more clinical in front of goal. Interestingly, Guardiola, who doesn’t typically like open games, embraced the idea of having a game similar to the 4 - 3 at the Etihad last season.
On having a game full of transition attacks
“How we’d like to have the game we had last season. I will sign up for that right now”
Our chief editor, Kiyan Sobhani, who attended the press conference at Manchester City Academy, gave his own thoughts on Pep’s quote having an open game:
Just left Pep's presser, he said something interesting. Last year, he said he wanted to avoid a transition battle with Real Madrid and slow the game down. Today, he said he would sign up for it tomorrow. I actually think Real Madrid are a better transition team than last year.1/2— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) May 16, 2023