Everything Pep Guardiola said in his pre-Champions League final press conference
The Manchester City manager spoke to the press ahead of the Champions League final against Inter.
The clock is counting down to the Champions League final in Istanbul, where Manchester City will face Inter for the top prize in European football. City manager Pep Guardiola may already have his starting XI ready for the final, but there is still time for him to spring some surprises on the journalists, fans and, of course, Inter.
Here’s everything the City boss had to say ahead of the tie...
De Bruyne said winning the Champions League is ‘an obsession and a dream for City’ - do you agree?
It is absolutely a dream, yeah. Absolutely a dream. To achieve things you always have to have the correct portion of obsession and desire. Obsession is a positive word and we will try to do it. It’s a dream for us.
You are favourites tomorrow, how do you keep players focussed?
Look how many people are here in the press conference room, this doesn’t always happen; I don’t control what opinion people have of the game. I saw as many Inter games as possible to know them, we will try to play our game. In the end, it’s a football game, and whoever does it best in 95 minutes will win. If we look at the history of the two teams, Inter are bigger than us but that’s not important, calling favourites is not important. The important thing is that at 10p.m. Istanbul time, we have the best performance possible. That will make the difference.
Gundogan said a positive atmosphere [from the fans] helped the side win the FA Cup...
I completely agree with him. It’s a day to celebrate for both fans, to be happy, this is the most important feeling. The past is the past, this is an incredible competition. We are not going to boo anymore, we will support the game and have fun.
What are the keys tomorrow agianst Inter?
There are so many things, they aren’t just used to defending, there might be a theory that says Italian teams only know how to defend... well of course they know how to defend but they never get nervous. The way the goalkeeper brings the ball out, the way they play with Darmian, Acerbi, Bastoni... they’re very dangerous with their forwards as well, they can play the ball between the 7 and 10, they don’t lose it. They can attack you in the middle and out wide, they can destroy you 1vs1. We are going to try to defend them high up the pitch.
Can you explain Haaland’s underperformance?
I’m not here to talk about Haaland not scoring goals! If you have doubts about that then you are the only person. I don’t have any doubts, tomorrow he will be ready to help us win the UCL.
Pep, you are inspirational to many young people, what are the principles for your success?
Have good players! Having Messi in the past and having Haaland now, that is my success. I’m not joking, it’s the truth! Let them feel that alone they can’t do it, and let them feel that together we are strong with the same idea. The guys who follow me will be here... Every manager that has success has strong institutions and strong institutions have strong players. Let me tell you, as a manager I’ve never scored a goal.
What lessons did you learn from the final against Chelsea?
I would like to tell you the lessons but I don’t know, it’s a different game, two years later. What I’m sure is two years ago we had in mind to have a good game and it didn’t work. That’s what people always say, that it didn’t work. Tomorrow I have a plan, I have an idea and I will communicate it to the players: if it’s right it will be good if it’s wrong it will be bad. But we are ready. I have the feeling we are ready; the players will give everything, respecting the opponents.
How different is it to play against 2 striker whereas other teams have one and two wide players? What do you think of Lautaro?
Of course it makes a difference. Playing against a 5-3-2 or a 5-4-1 is different. It will make transitions different, our attack will be different. I don’t need to say much about Lautaro, he is a world champion, he is a very good finisher.
What’s the balance between following the plan and freedom for the players?
Following the plan gives us stability. The plan helps in the uncertain moments in the game, to come back and make ourselves stable. It gives us security. It’s important when you play a final to know exactly what you have to do, doing that we’ll be stable. But in games there are moments that are crazy. In one game, it’s going bad and we have to put on more strikers and moments that we have to put 7 centre-backs on. There are moments where there are no tactics, there is just desire, but it depends on the game.
At the beginning, in a final, I don’t believe much in saying ‘do whatever you want’, because you have to be stable, defend well, take control; they are masters of defending, you have to be patient. The most important thing is to think that, at 0-0, we are losing. Italian teams think they are winning when at 0-0. That’s why you have to be stable and get rhythm but at the same time, be stable. And in the bad moments, step forward. It’s going to happen, but you never know what’s going to happen.
Who will be Inter’s most dangerous player?
The way they play. It’s difficult when you’re high pressing as Onana is an exceptional goalkeeper in the build up, he’s really good. And all the processes that they do on the left side, with Bastoni especially, are exceptional. The quality they have to link with the strikers... they have to ability to give the extra pass. Sometimes we will have to defend these connections and with the ball, try to attack. It’s always difficult to attack against five at the back, but we have to find solutions to be more effective in creating problems, that’s the target.