Ahead of the second game of the UEFA Champions League group stage, Pep Guardiola had his usual press availability. Among many other topics he covered his UCL failures and stressed his want to win this year’s edition.
Let’s see what he had to say-
‘I think I answered this 250 times since I came here. I will try [to win UCL], like every year we try it. It was important to start with a win at home - winning home games is the most important thing. Tomorrow is the second game. We want to win.’
‘Kevin is back again, he played a few minutes v West Ham. Aymeric is back, Nathan so close. The rest will be two or three weeks. I don’t know about Sergio, Mendy as well. We will need everyone with this amount of games.’
‘I would say the same - we are not an exception to the other teams playing in Europe. We have the same schedule. Everyone has stats in the Premier League, we have 47% more muscle injuries. We try and protect players as much as possible and the strongest ones will survive.’
‘It would be a dream. But it’s just important to qualify. We played a tough game in the first one. Now we have the second one and in France it’s always hard. It’s a challenge to make a step forward.’
‘I followed him at Porto [Villas-Boas] - he made an incredible job. I met him in Barcelona and we had a chat. He is an experienced manager, he knows perfectly the Premier League. He’s a young manager who’s had success and he is doing a good job here in Marseille.’
‘One of the historical teams in France. The quality of Payet and Thauvin. Physicality in the middle. A well organised side, who defend well the space. You have to find a way to control the game. Not concede set pieces - and punish them when we think we can do it.’
‘ I am so glad for defenders the club gave to me. Unfortunately Benjamin is injured again and hopefully he can come back and be as good as he was in France. Laporte since he arrived was incredible but he had a big injury. Tomorrow maybe he can help us if we decide he plays.’
‘In terms of Kyle, he is a special football player in terms of his physicality. It is so demanding the games. Sometimes he needs a game. When Oleks and Nathan re back, maybe we can rest him. He is one of our captains, his influence is huge.’
‘We were very patient and didn’t force him. When people tell me he is ready, we knew he wasn’t in best condition, it was important to play just 55/60 mins. Avoid the last minutes to avoid muscle injuries but one action in the first half was unlucky and he felt something.’ Yeah, maybe. We considered it and thought about another type of striker. But we couldn’t. The club did what they could. Our team is young in many positions. When you decide to buy a striker, it has to be a striker at level of Gabriel and Sergio.’
‘Sometimes I use a double, sometimes one, it depends on quality of the opponent and the way we want to play. Ilkay can play attacking and holding. Rodri more a holding midfielder.’
‘it depends on the way we want to play. Gundo can play attacking or holding, Rodri more holding, and now Fernandinho is going to be play in this position - enough central defenders...’
Thoughts on Pep’s comments?