"I'm not overthinking tomorrow, don't worry" – Walker and Guardiola pre Real Madrid Press Conference
Kyle Walker and Pep Guardiola faced the media ahead of Manchester City's semi-final second-leg clash against Real Madrid at the Etihad after the two sides played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu last week.
First up, Walker.
Battle with Vinicius Jr:
"I don't think it's just about A and B, it's a team game. It's a personal battle, against one of the best players in the world. I've faced many who have been just as good as him. Whoever is picked to play him, it'll be a big battle.
"I take it as any other game, you have to show him respect. Like Mbappe at the World Cup. You give them the respect they deserve. I'm representing City, the ambition for the club is massive. If I can't compete with these top players, I shouldn't be here. I need to make sure I come against the best and can deal with the best.
"I went to hug him [after the first leg] because he tried to rainbow-flick me. I was like please don't try that again and make me a meme. Boxers have a battle and shake hands after. You give the level of respect because they deserve it. Carrying a massive club over the line in the Champions League, you show your respect. Tomorrow night, I'll give him the respect he deserves but before that is dog eat dog."
On the magnitude of the week:
"It's big for everyone in the dressing room. We know the goals at the end of it, it's a massive week for the club. We've put ourselves in a good position compared to two months ago [in the Premier League]. To bring 1-1 to the Etihad, we're more than confident to get a result. Hopefully, we can do that again."
On the Champions League:
"I'd have liked to win against Chelsea. It was a learning curve. This group of players is good enough, we've overcome situations. I remember against Tottenham, we thought Aguero scored and we were through but they scored at the other end. We've had rough and good moments. This is the icing on the cake, we can hopefully put our names in the history books for this club and on the Champions League map."
On Guardiola's comments about his place in the team a few months ago:
"I have to react professionally, he's my manager. Some opinions you don't agree with, for what he's done for me, for City, is nothing short of tremendous. Of course, it hurt, and you start to doubt yourself. You have to go back to basics, what you're good at, why he bought me here, and prove him wrong. I put my head down. I'm one of the captains, I had to make sure my disappointment didn't show on the team."
On the team's situation before the good run of form:
"Champions League we were doing well, Premier League was a big gap. It was a fine line between losing or drawing another it could be all over. With this group, nothing's over. We kick on at the business end of the season. We were joking with Gundo, he turns into prime Zidane in the last couple of months. They're born winners, sometimes you have to shine."
On his pace:
"I'm 32 but I'm not old, I still feel great, fit, bar the injury with my groin before the World Cup. I've kept myself in good shape, I look after myself off the field. I work in the gym. I have to thank my parents and their genetics, some players start to slow down. One of the sports science lads said I hit 37.5, I don't seem to be getting any slower. Erling's very quick, some strikers don't create those chances [that he can because of his strength and pace]. I still have to back myself [against him]."
Conversations with the team when the form was not as good:
"It's not just as captains, it's us as a club, it's easy to talk when you're winning. When the going gets tough, real characters come out and you're in the trenches. We're not fighting relegations, we should be at the top and this club is expected to challenge for the league. We knew if we kept on digging, go on a little run, we can close that gap. The manager kept saying as long as we can get them to the Etihad in a close gap the title race is on. We gave that to him."
On what the Champions League means:
"You look at United and what they accomplished, when you're compared to that team, they won countless titles. We won five in six years if we can cross the line. It's not over, we need to get results against Chelsea, Brighton or Brentford – tough places to go. The club is missing that one, the owners the amount of money they've invested, we owe it to them. The final against Chelsea, not performing as we can, we owe it to ourselves. We've got a tough opponent tomorrow to get to the final, then it's a final, anything can happen. AC Milan and Inter Milan are massive clubs. We'll watch that game and study it hard but the first thing is getting to the final."
Next up, Guardiola.
On whether the next month defines his legacy:
"My legacy is already exceptional! Here for many times already, we are not stupid to know how important tomorrow is. Maybe the most important since we've been here. I say to the players, live it, enjoy the moment. How fortunate we are. It's in our hands, depends on us, don't have to do anything exceptional. Be ourselves, give everything. I have an incredible feeling about the team. Whatever happens, thank you for bringing us here to be again."
Arriving at a good moment to face Madrid:
"We arrive really good, we're in the FA Cup final, one game from Premier League, but we have to play better than Madrid. We have to perform well, not just the desire. Relax, only have to do what we have done many years. This is what we have to do, not just the desire to reach the final. We have to be better than [at] the Bernabeu to get the final."
Owners wanting the Champions League:
"When I arrive here, they didn't say win the Champions League. They said to try to do the best as possible. We won all the titles except this one. We want it. Losing against Chelsea, and Madrid, of course, we want it. This is what we want, people say we are close, but I think we are far away... Nobody guarantees in the future we'll be here. Once we are there, let's go. Try to go for it, be together in the bad moments, suffer, we play with our people."
Opponents finding it tough to win at the Etihad:
"I know they will be close to us [fans]. They will be with us. We will play with 12. The pressure is doing our game. In the bad moments, they will be there."
Kevin De Bruyne / Nathan Ake fitness update:
"Except Nathan, everyone is fit."
Who is the favourite for the game tomorrow:
"The players have to make an incredible performance to beat Madrid. I have an idea to be more different, more fluid in attack. It will happen naturally at home, we feel free, doesn't matter, we go. That's a feeling we have. Be ourselves, the rest I play ten semi-finals for the Champions League, and I lost seven. I know that feeling, there are many things you can't control."
How Guardiola plans to improve the team ahead of the second leg:
"Hopefully you can see tomorrow. I cannot tell you, otherwise, Carlo will hear. I'm not overthinking tomorrow, don't worry guys. Nothing different to the past, just to be more fluid and play a bit better."
Avoiding a repeat of the home leg last season:
"If we had the game last year [winning 4-3] I'd sign right now... I don't think will happen."
Expecting to be here and the team in this position after the first six games of the first season:
"After the first season, first I wouldn't expect seven years. I have incredible self-confidence but not enough. This league is really tough. How pleased I am this consistency is always there."
Players owing the Champions League to others:
"They don't have to put pressure of the owners or myself. Have to do it for themselves. They have done anything in the past, last season they did it. Just play a football game as best as they can. Not necessary to tell them how good Madrid are. They felt it last season, this season. To live [this situation], we are blessed."
Written by: @NA1907_
Some quotes as quoted by Manchester Evening News.
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