Written By Onyeka Daniel
With less than a month to the final of the UEFA Champions League slated to hold in the famous city of Istanbul in Turkey, it’s the perfect opportunity to make history for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City as they pursue a treble this season with the UCL final the last trophy that they will have the chance to win.
Going into this game, the Premier League champions are seen as favorites against Italian side, Inter Milan and that favorite tag was justified with the way they dispatched Real Madrid in the semi-finals, drawing 1-1 in Spain before annihilating them 4-0 at the Etihad stadium in the second leg.
It’s not just the result, it’s the level of the two squads going into the encounter, but for Guardiola, he’s refusing to get carried away by that favorite tag as he has already called for preparation from his players.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach has now revealed his biggest fear going into this important game for both sides. According to manager, he admitted that he’s scared of losing because of the criticism he could receive, so the idea that Manchester City will win the UCL next month or the Premier League next season is stupid.
Guardiola has led City to five of the last six Premier League titles and he never gets tired of winning because he is scared to lose, and that external predictions must be put out of his mind as they are simply ‘stupid comments’. “Introduce me to a manager who doesn’t want to win,” Guardiola said.
“I’m scared to lose, I don’t want to be criticized, I want respect from my players. What we say, what we do, is to win. I accept my defeats because I always accept that the opponents can be better and beat us.
“So when people say we failed or lost it is like the others are s***. But the others can be good and beat us. It’s like ignoring the other ones. If the other ones beat us it is because they deserve it. When people say now that next season just Man City can win the Premier League, they are stupid comments.
“As much as you are not in your head, it is because you accept they are stupid comments. But as much as they are not in your head, they remain stupid comments. Next season will be tough because all clubs want to beat us. That is the challenge.
“Next season during one year we defend our crown. It belongs to us for one year and we will work for it. If they want it, they have to do it better than us. But if it happens, we will congratulate them.”
Looking ahead to the final games of the season, Guardiola insisted that on the same trail of thought, City must take their two finals as seriously as possible and ignore the predictions that they will definitely win the treble. He said: “United can beat us. Inter can beat us. They have three Champions Leagues, we don’t have any. But we have to do our best to try to avoid it.”
There seems to be a glimmer of hope for Newcastle United and Arsenal in the race for Lazio midfielder, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic after both teams clinch their top four tickets to play in the UCL next season as they’re now seen as a prospective destination for the player.
According to report, the played snubbed the two clubs a year ago, looking for a club that would play Champions League football, but the Gunners and the Magpies have qualified for Europe’s elite competition, while the midfielder’s price tag will likely decrease with only a year left in his contract. The Serbia international is expected to leave Lazio at the end of the season, as suggested by departing director Igli Tare on Monday night.
“For the good of everyone, we will sit around a table and clarify this. What I say for me is also valid for him, he has a strong bond with Lazio, he admires and respects the club and coach. Anything can happen, including that he could be sold to another club,” he told told Sky Sport Italia.
The highly-rated central midfielder is represented by former Chelsea striker, Mateja Kezman and the agent last year revealed that the Gunners and Magpies had been in talks for his client. However, the midfielder rejected both clubs that would not play Champions League football.
“Honestly, Sergej and I think that these options are not for him, he wants to play Champions League football consistently in the future,” said Kezman, adding that Thomas Tuchel, a former Chelsea coach, now at Bayern Munich, is a long-time admirer of his client.
With Lazio also getting into the UCL for next season, it’s left to be seen how this will eventually play out. Apart from Arsenal and Newcastle, Inter Milan and Liverpool have also been mentioned as a possible destination where he can reunite with Simone Inzaghi, the coach that was very instrumental in his career before he joined the Nerazzurri two years ago.
Do you have a story tip?
Kindly Email: email@example.com