Pep Guardiola urges Manchester City to use the pain of last season’s Champions League final defeat to inspire them to victory this year: “The players have feelings and a soul… It’s a motivation, they want it’
- Pep Guardiola says last season’s Champions League final defeat could help his team
- Manchester City were beaten 1-0 by Chelsea in May, but want to bounce back
- Guardiola’s side kick off their final campaign at home against RB Leipzig
For much of his time as Manchester City leader, Pep Guardiola has leaned on the club’s infancy in the Champions League as the reason why it should come as no surprise they didn’t win it on his watch.
There are institutions with a storied history in the league, their traditions steeped in European football. He has often reiterated that City possessed neither.
You can debate the relative merits of that argument in the context of City’s catapulting to the elite over the past decade, and many do. But due to last season’s events, expectations are rising and are now higher than ever, even without a new striker.
Pep Guardiola believes last season’s Champions League final defeat could help his team
Guardiola and his team forged their own piece of history by reaching the May final and in turn casting the ghosts of three consecutive quarter-finals. They have collective and positive experiences that are their own, beating group stage opponents Paris Saint-Germain over two legs to the pinnacle. They are therefore again among the favorites before they kick off against RB Leipzig on Wednesday evening.
The way they failed to force Chelsea into Porto four months ago is a situation that Guardiola says can help his players take it one step further – just as the defeat to the unimaginable Lyon had done the year before. .
“I’m pretty sure it can, I’m pretty sure,” he said. “The players have feeling and soul and, you know, it hurts when you can’t perform. For them it is a new challenge to try. These guys have won three Premier League titles in the last four years and every year we feel we can do better.
City suffered heartbreak in the final, but is now embarking on a new Champions League campaign
“We’ve reached the Champions League final and it’s motivation, they want it. But there are many other teams who want it too. People can say that Manchester City was a failure, okay, that’s your opinion. It was an incredible achievement last season, we played so many games and we lost the final to a big contender.
‘We are only in September, the final is in May, so much can still happen. It depends on how you arrive at that moment, with injuries, with the mood of the team – a lot of different things.’
Guardiola spoke on Tuesday about how they had begun to truly compete with the best in Europe, while warning that a strong performance last year is no guarantee of similar success this time around. He draws on the huge ‘step forward’ of their lead up to a first final.
It was a disappointment that people around the club said they were relatively quick to shrug, perhaps helped by the need for players to focus on the Euros quickly.
“In my case, you’ve got three fucking days,” Rodri said bluntly. “You can’t even bring yourself to talk to your family and friends. Your face isn’t as good as you want it to be.
City midfielder Rodri wants to win the Champions League, but recognizes that it will be difficult
“However, you go further and in defeat you learn more than in victories. It is a dream for many of us to win, but it is not mandatory. It’s such an incredible tournament, but only one team wins it. I would now sign to get into another final.
“It’s not easy, it was the first time in our history and you have to do a lot of things to get into that situation. Winning the Champions League is in our heads. I’m sure we’re going to have a great season.”
Guardiola understands the demands of knowing if this will be their year, but that doesn’t make him any less excited.
“Every year is the same,” he added. “I will be very happy for the club if we win it, but if we don’t do it, we won’t do it.
‘You can judge whether my period is a success or not. I’m trying to do my best. People judge my work, just like I judge how great my players have been over the past five years.”