Pep Guardiola has urged Manchester City not to rely on previous Champions League performances and try to “punish” Bayern Munich in Wednesday’s quarter-final second leg despite their 3-0 advantage.
City were much the better side in the opener at the Etihad Stadium last week, with goals from Rodri, Bernardo Silva and Erling Haaland making them favorites to progress to the semi-finals. But ahead of that game and a 7-0 thrashing of Leipzig in the previous round, Guardiola revealed how conceding “too many goals” against Real Madrid, Tottenham and Monaco had seen these teams eliminate City in the Champions League. years before that.
The manager was asked how he could be sure these and other similar highlights – at 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 – it would be a big mistake for us – so we have to prepare for this game,” he said.
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Guardiola referred to how a 1-0 deficit against Tottenham in 2019 in the first leg of the quarter-final turned into a 4-4 aggregate victory on away goals. “It was completely different – we were down,” he said.
“It is our mentality that will be preparing for the [Bayern] game by looking at the first leg, see what we could do better, and how we can control the game and punish them.
“We’re here in Munich against one of the most historic teams in the Champions League – we’re not here to defend something [the lead]. It’s 11 men against 11 and try to be better than the opponent in this particular game. Our mindset is to try and win the game.”
Guardiola was asked if City will deal with the competition if they concede first. “I want to say yes but I don’t know. Every game is different,” he said. “The speed they have up front is unbelievable. We can’t push the same way all the time because they have the weapons to understand how we do it. If we do all this, we will win, but I don’t know what will happen.”
Guardiola made Phil Foden available again after an emergency operation for appendicitis. “It’s good news for us. He had one training session so he will be on the bench. I do not know [how many minutes he is capable of] – but he’s special, he doesn’t need many training sessions to get fit.”
Like his manager, Ilkay Gündogan offered a note of caution. “It’s about balance – our team is going to start every game with the hope of winning it. We want to win the ball, the possession – but we have to play in a mature way,” said the German midfielder.
“We know from our games and our own experience in the past, that everything is possible. You can get incredible results that you don’t believe beforehand so we take that very seriously.”
Gündogan’s contract expires in the close season. “There are talks in the background – that’s normal for a few months to go,” he said. “Nothing has been decided yet, not from my side, not from the club’s side – the discussions continue. My physical condition – that plays a part too [whether to leave].”
Thomas Tuchel admitted that his team must believe that they can still progress. “We need a miracle,” said the Bayern head coach. “This is the second half of the final and we have to play two more halves [on Wednesday]. If we play the first half well, it can happen in the second. Everything is possible – we are aware of this.
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“If the moment comes and we are lucky everything is possible in football. But there are moments, periods, important decisions by the referee, disagreements, chances to save: all these things come together. We have to find the faith in us, but that doesn’t mean we have a dream.
“It’s hard, and it’s a huge mountain to climb. We have to believe – we believe in ourselves but we don’t want to be a dreamer – a dream for me is close to sleep and if you can’t do one thing, you can’t sleep for a second. We have to believe and make it happen through performance, team spirit and energy.”
Sadio Mané will be available again for Tuchel, who could start Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting at centre-forward, after serving a one-game suspension for punching Leroy Sané in the Bayern dressing room at the Eithad Stadium after the first leg last week.