Pep Guardiola on ‘overthinking’ Real Madrid game plan, Champions League dream and ‘exceptional legacy’
Pep Guardiola is set to continue the hunt for a famous treble as Manchester City prepare to face Real Madrid in the Champions League this week.
The tie is evenly poised after a 1-1 draw in Spain last week, while the Premier League title race is all but over after Arsenal were beaten 3-0 by Brighton.
The Citizens only need one more win to guarantee the top-flight title, while they are also in the FA Cup final against Manchester United.
But all focus is now on the Champions League and City are one match from making it to the final again.
And ahead of the second clash against Real, Guardiola spoke to the press…
“My legacy is already exceptional! We are not stupid to know how important tomorrow is. It’s maybe one of the most important games since we arrived here.
“I have told the players to enjoy it and we don’t have to do anything exceptional, we just have to be ourselves and give everything.
“I have an incredible feeling about the team. Whatever happens, thank you for bringing us here again.”
Improving on the first leg
“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.
“I am not overthinking tomorrow, it’s nothing different to what we have done in the past. We just need to be a bit more fluid.”
Champions League trophy
“We want it. Losing against Chelsea, Madrid, of course we want it. This is what we want. People say we are close, I think we are far away.
“But it is a dream come true to play here again.
“There are no guarantees that we will be here again, so let’s go for it and play with our people.”
“Except Nathan [Ake], everyone is fit.”
Why Real Madrid are so good in the Champions League
“If I knew that, I’d know how to beat them! The reason is they’ve always had quality players, without that standard, they wouldn’t achieve.”
“Maybe we could have a book about my legacy, but I won’t be judged on the Champions League.
“We’ve had a great time, played great football. We had great times with Arteta, it’s the best legacy you can have.”
Man City defender Kyle Walker also shared the player’s perspective on Real Madrid.
Facing Vinicius Jr
“It’s a personal battle against one of the best players in the world.
“I’ve faced many who have been just as good as him. Whoever is picked to play him, it’ll be a big battle.
“I take it as any other game, you have to show him respect.
“You give them the respect they deserve, but I am not just going to let them walk through and score. I’m representing City, and the club’s ambition is massive.
“If I can’t compete with these top players, I shouldn’t be here. I need to make sure I come against the best and can deal with the best.”
Winning the Champions League
“I’d have liked to win against Chelsea. It was a learning curve. This group of players is good enough.
“We’ve overcome situations. I remember against Tottenham, we thought [Sergio] Aguero scored and we were through. We’ve had rough and good moments. This is the icing on the cake, we can hopefully put our names in the history books.”
The interaction with Vinicius Jr at full time
“I went to hug him because he went to rainbow flick me, and it was more like ‘please don’t do that to me again and make me a meme’.
“Boxers have a battle and shake hands after. You give the level of respect because they deserve it.
“Carrying a massive club over the line in the Champions League, you show your respect. Tomorrow night, I’ll give him the respect he deserves, but before that, it’s dog eat dog.”
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