Despite a 3-0 lead, Pep Guardiola has urged Manchester City not to dwell on previous Champions League exits and to try to “punish” Bayern Munich in the quarter-final second leg on Wednesday..
City dominated the first game at Etihad Stadium last week, with goals from Rodri, Bernardo Silva, and Erling Haaland making them favorites to advance to the semi-finals. However, prior to that match, and after Leipzig was beaten 7-0 in the previous round, Guardiola mentioned how Real Madrid, Tottenham, and Monaco had eliminated City in previous years by conceding “a lot of goals.”
The manager was asked how he could be certain that these and other similar knockouts – by Liverpool and Lyon – would not be on the minds of his players at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday. “We can’t think about the past because that would be a huge mistake for us,” he explained.
Guardiola mentioned how a 1-0 deficit to Tottenham in a quarter-final first leg in 2019 became a 4-4 aggregate defeat on away goals. “It was totally different – we were down,” he explained. “Our mindset will be to prepare for the [Bayern] game by watching the first leg and seeing what we can improve on and how we can control the game and punish them.”
We are here in Munich to defend something [the lead] against one of the most historic sides in the Champions League. In this game, it’s 11 men against 11 men, and the goal is to outperform the opponent. “Our mindset is to win the game.”
Guardiola was asked if City would be able to handle the game if they conceded first. “I’d like to say yes, but I’m not sure.” “Every game is different,” he explained. “The speed they have up front is incredible.” We can’t keep pressing in the same way because they have the weapons to figure out how we do it. If we do all of this, we will win, but I’m not sure what will happen.”
Following an emergency appendicitis operation, Guardiola has Phil Foden available again. “This is great news for us. He only had one training session, so he’ll be sitting on the bench. I’m not sure [how many minutes he can last] – but he’s special, and he doesn’t need a lot of training sessions to stay fit.”
Germany midfielder Ilkay Gündogan, like his manager, struck a cautious tone. “It’s about striking a balance; our team approaches every game with the goal of winning.” We want the ball, possession, and to win – but we have to play maturely,” the midfielder explained.
We know from previous games and experiences that anything is possible. We take it very seriously because you can get incredible results that you won’t believe before.
Gündogan’s contract will expire at the end of the season. “There are talks going on in the background – that’s normal with only a few months left,” he explained. “Nothing has been decided yet, neither from my side nor from the club’s side – the talks continue.” My physical condition also influences [whether or not I leave].”
Thomas Tuchel admitted that his team must believe that they can still advance. “We need a miracle,” said the head coach. “This is the second half of the tie, and we have two more halves [on Wednesday].”
If we play well in the first half, it is possible that it will happen in the second. Everything is possible, as we are well aware.
Everything is possible in football if the right moment arrives and we are lucky. But there are moments, periods, crucial referee decisions, offsides, and chances that are saved: all of these things come together. We need to believe in ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we should fantasize..
“It’s difficult, and it’s a massive mountain to climb.” We need to believe – we believe in ourselves – but we don’t want to be dreamers – dreaming is similar to sleeping in my opinion, and if you can’t do one thing, you can’t sleep for one second. We must believe and make it happen through performance and team spirit.
Tuchel, who may start Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting at center-forward, will have Sadio Mané available after serving a one-game suspension for hitting Leroy Sané in the Bayern changing room after the first leg last week at the Eithad Stadium..