Tuesday, December 5, 2023

UCL : Seeking revenge against Real Madrid would be a grave error – Guardiola

Seeking Champions League revenge against Real Madrid would be a grave error by Manchester City, Pep Guardiola claimed on Monday ahead of their semi-final showdown.

The City coach said his team would try and capitalise on an “opportunity” instead of aiming to make Carlo Ancelotti’s reigning champions pay for eliminating them at the same stage last season.

The former Barcelona player and manager was at odds with City’s defensive midfielder Rodri, who said the team were hungry for revenge against the record 14-time winners on Tuesday at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“It will be a huge mistake, we’re not here for revenge, just an opportunity,” Guardiola told a news conference.

“Last season we did everything, more than everything to reach the final, but (in) football… it’s not enough.”

City have never lifted the trophy but Madrid have triumphed five times in the last nine seasons.

Guardiola’s side beat Madrid 4-3 in the first leg last season and led by a goal in the return, until two late Rodrygo Goes strikes forced extra-time.

Karim Benzema scored a penalty in the additional period to send Madrid through to the Paris final, where they beat Liverpool.

“I think we did 180 minutes brilliantly but it’s not enough sometimes, you can lose the leg in five minutes,” said Spanish midfielder Rodri.

“You have to kill the opponent when you can. We’ve learnt from the past but I don’t like to talk about the past.

“We’ve learnt a lot, it’s another year, another goal, with the hunger of having revenge.”

Guardiola did agree with Rodri that City played well over both ties last season, despite their eventual elimination.

“We had an exceptional first game in Manchester, we did a really good game here,” said Guardiola.

“All we can do is congratulate them and move forward. One year later, we are here.”

The coach said he thought his side would one day triumph in Europe, after disappointment in the 2021 final, where they were beaten by Chelsea.

Guardiola praised his club’s stability, in contrast to other sides who triumph but then fall away in subsequent years.

City have reached at least the last eight in each of the past six seasons.

“One day we will reach the final and we will win it,” said Guardiola.

“I wouldn’t like to win the Champions League and then go down and down and down.

“Being stable is the most important things as a club, Madrid are an example.”

Despite his historic rivalry with Los Blancos, which grew to a bitter peak during Jose Mourinho’s time in charge of Madrid between 2010-13, Guardiola acknowledged their achievements in Europe.

“To win this competition you have to beat the best team, and Madrid are the best team in this competition in the last decade,” he added.

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