"A blind guy can realise he's a good striker!" - Pep Guardiola Pre Dortmund Press Conference
Ahead of Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final shootout with Borussia Dortmund, Pep Guardiola and Rodri spoke to the media to discuss Erling Haaland, Dortmund's form and City's curse of failing to reach the semi-final in any of Guardiola's seasons at the helm.
Rodri was first to be asked questions and the first was about the importance of the UCL.
"For me, all the competitions are the same. I want to win everything. It is true that it is a very tough competition. Anything can happen in two games but it demands you to be focused over 90 minutes. We have to be focused on this lovely competition. We have experience of these situations nd we're going to face a very good team."
Rodri had high praise for Erling Haaland, who has ten goals in the UCL this season.
"Of course. I think his performances have been impressive. He's only 21, I think, and he is scoring lots of goals but we are not focused on one player. Dortmund is a big team in Europe. I remember facing them with Atletico and it was a tough game. They have lots of young players but a mix of young and experienced players. I think they have a very offensive squad so we have to be aware of this. They like going forward and scoring goals so we have to try to play our game."
Rodri was unfazed about previous exits and insisted it was a different situation to last year, his first at the club when City lost a one-legged tie 3-1 to Lyon.
"My experience was last year. I think it is a different situation. It was only one game. We have the opportunity to get back to this situation and prove to ourselves that we are ready for every challenge. The most important thing for us is to be calm and play like we're playing in all of the games, not think much about other things. We have to focus on our game and this season we showed when we do our game and we're focused on our game we have lots of chances."
The most important thing for us is to be calm and play like we're playing in all of the games, not think much about other things.
After being asked about Haaland, Rodri was also asked about Jude Bellingham but the midfielder said once again that City is focused on the team, not their individuals.
"We don't focus on individual players. in the media we analyse them as a team and the players usually play and it is important to know the individual players but we have to be worried about the team, not individuals. Honestly, there are some players, I don't know much because I am young but they have an unbelievable squad. They show in games they can score lots of goals although they also concede. They are a dangerous team, they scored three at Sevilla."
Rodri also said it would be a dream for Aguero to leave the club with a Champions League title.
"We have the motivation of every single year. Sergio is a very very important player for us. He deserves to go in the best way and for me, it will be a dream to achieve this competition with him and the team. It would be the best present for him and for everyone."
"It would be the best present for him and for everyone."
Rodri had high praise for Ilkay Gundogan, who has been a standout performer this season.
"I don't have to talk much. he has had an outstanding and unbelievable season, not only because of the goals and assists and appearing in headlines but what he does on the pitch, the moves, the understanding of the game. He is a very important player for us and for his country. We have to pass him the ball! That is the reality. We have lots of players in a good shape and we are thankful for this."
On the Lyon loss, Rodri said City can't think too much about it.
"It's true. When you get these difficult defeats you learn and face the next one with more ambition and desire. it is what we are going to try to do. But as I told your partner we have to be focused on ourselves. It would be bad for us if we decelerate because we want to achieve big things in a short time. We have to keep calm and do our game."
"We have to be focused on ourselves."
Rodri said City will stick to their game when facing Erling Haaland.
"We know the defensive side. They play with four dangerous players and have sometimes dynamic game. They break and try to punish you with counter-attacks. We have to control it but we don't have to change our way of playing. We take the ball with responsibility and control counter-attacks and these type of players but the key of all of this is if we do a good performance our way and control in our way I think it will be good for us."
Next up was Pep Guardiola, who first discussed whether leading the Premier League gave them an edge and a boost in Europe.
"Why should we win the other competitions just because we are leading the Premier League? Bayern Munich are leading the Bundesliga, Atletico are leading the Spanish league. It is different. The only concern tomorrow is to try to win the game. Win this game and after comes Leeds and after we go to Dortmund to win that game. After that, if we play good and deserve it we go through. If not, we will try next season."
"Why should we win the other competitions just because we are leading the Premier League?"
Pep was then asked about spending £100m to sign one player.
"Spending a lot of money on one player doesn't give you an advantage to win. Football is a team game, everyone makes a contribution. Competitions are not won by one player, it is every player. SO far the club has decided not to spend close to £100m for a player. Maybe in the future it will happen when the club decides it is necessaruy to improve the team for the next 5-10 years but so far the organisation decides not to do it and that's why we didn't do it but maybe in the future."
Pep was asked whether City have forgotten the Lyon defeat, and he said all the team are doing for this one is preparing as normal.
"Everyone in this club and other clubs wants to go as far as possible. One thing is what we want and after the facts, you have to show it on the grass and beat the opponents, as we have done many times in all competitions. I want to be honest with you. I prepare this game like I prepared the previous one and the one before that and all the games in the last two to four months. What they do, who they are, introduce to the players and try to win this game. it is not about how many goals we will concede or score, just win the game. We go to Dortmund in one week tow in the game. After, it depends on the quality on the pitch. It is a different competition, it looks more special but it is a football game like the Carabao Cup or Premier League."
Guardiola said the Lyon defeat stook in his head for weeks and defeat was tough to take.
"It remained in my head for weeks. it was painful. It was the last game of the season and we wanted to go through. We congratulated Lyon, accepted that we didn't do it quite well or we didn't deserve to go through. It was painful but at the end what could we do? After a few days, wake up again and prepare for next season. We are here again to try again."
"It remained in my head for weeks. it was painful."
Pep had plenty of praise for Ilkay Gundogan.
"He wins or he deserves this role of leadership through what he has done on the pitch. It is the best way to show his ability. I said I'm delighted the external recognition for people not scoring goals or assists because nice people deserve it. I know how he behaved when he didn't play in some periods or was not playing good. He is incredibly loved for the fact he is an incredible human. He thinks not just for himself but what is best for the team and when this kind of thing happens you have your rewards and deserve what you built. He is the same player. I said many times the year we won the second Premier League he was incredible as a holding midfielder. Now he is our top scorer and that's why he gets the recognition that I said he deserves."
"Now he is our top scorer and that's why he gets the recognition that I said he deserves."
Pep was asked if the UCL would cement City as a big club, but he insisted they already are and are only focusing on the game.
"We are already a big club but of course everyone is here and wants to try to do better than we have done in these competitions without history and especially since we are together. For the fact we want to do it, at the end it is a football game 11 against 11 and we are going to do as much as possible. We analyse Borussia Dortmund as a group, as a team. I want to play to try to win this game. After Leeds, after Dortmund. It doesn't matter the result tomorrow - positive or negative. After, we're going to decide how the game was."
Pep on Haaland:
"All I can say is he is an exceptional striker for his age. The numbers speak for themselves. He's a fantastic player, that's all."
Guardiola refused to be drawn into mind games surrounding the quadruple.
"I appreciate the question but my answer is the same. I am not able to tell you about a Quadruple, Triple, Double, Single. All I am concerned is doing a good game tomorrow and seeing what happens in the second leg."
Guardiola was asked if he ever fancied signing Marco Reus, who has recently returned from a strain of injuries limiting his football over recent years.
"He was not on my agenda because at Barcelona no, at Bayern Munich no and here, no. I'm happy he is back because he has struggled with injuries in the last years. It is a pity. I am glad and happy because he is an exceptional player that he is back fit."
"He was never on my agenda."
Pep reminisced about his time at Dortmund and had praise for the team despite their results their season when asked about his memories of tomorrow's opponents.
"Maybe this season they struggle to be consistent but if you analyse the individual quality then every player is fantastic. We could talk about Hummels, Can, Meunier, Dahoud...everyone. Haaland, Sancho, Hazard, Reus, Brandt. The young players from the academy are fantastic players. They were able to beat Sevilla, who are a master team in knockout stages. When I analyse a team I never see the table. It is a football game and it starts from 0-0, we have two legs and the team that plays better will go through. When I was in Munich, they were our big rivals. Every year we had to fight against them. We played three years, the first season with Jurgen Klopp and after with Thomas Tuchel. We played two times, the cup final. They were big rivals, Signal Iduna Park is a fantastic stadium. I'm looking forward to playing again against them."
More on Erling Haaland:
"In that age scoring that amount of goals is not easy to find. The numbers speak for themselves. When that happens it is because he can score right, left, counter, box, header. He's a fantastic striker. Everybody knows it. A blind guy can realise he is a good striker. It is not necessary to be a manager."
"A blind guy can realise he's a good striker."
All quotes are from Manchester Evening News.