Ahead of City's return to Champions League, Pep and Rodri previewed the upcoming European season to give their verdict on the final last season and what they expect this time around.
Rodri was first asked about what lessons the team learned from the Champions League final.
"We done a great season, we were proud of what we achieved with this feeling that we could achieve the big trophy. It was the first time in our history that we arrived into a final and all the players in the squad have a little more ambition and experience every year. No regrets about that. We have to be so proud and happy about what we did. We're going to learn from this experience. The Champions League is decided by little differences. We have to keep working and tomorrow we have the first step against Leipzig to achieve the Champions League."
"We have to be so proud and happy about what we did. We're going to learn from this experience."
He then added what the team can learn from their experience to improve.
"It's always a positive thing. I don't remember many players who in the first years do their best games and I think this club has been doing step by step eveyr year. If we can look ourselves and see that we can achieve our final our goal is to achieve another final. We have experience now and we have ot keep going and keep working. We always need this little bit of luck. I'm pretty sure we're going to do a great season again."
Rodri then was asked about how strong English football is now.
"In the sense of arriving to finals in the CL and EL, there is no doubt. Six years ago it wasn't like this, it was the Spanish league with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico. Nothing changes. It depends on the opinion of the people. I know the Premier League and English football is getting stronger every time. I always say we have the small super league here in the Premier League in the sense of the amazing teams. I think Europe is so different. you don't need to focus on your league. There are different ways that teams play in different countries so we have to be 100 per cent focused on what we have to come."
He was then asked if the club need to win the Champions League.
"I don't know. We don't have to. It's a dream for all of us. It's not compulsory. The CL is such an unbelievable tournament where only one wins. We have to focus on ourselves and on our season because the trophies are in the last part of the season. It's not a good idea to think much about that. It is our dream, the club is working the last ten years to achieve this and we show we are just there. It depends on many things, the CL has small details that can change and make a difference so we have to keep working and say that we can do what we did last season."
Are English teams the favourites this season?
"The Champions League is that hard that any team can send you out. it is like this, the reality of football. Of course we face a German team that has very good players and they play in a very specific way. They can compete with all teams, they have shown they can beat anyone. It is going to be a tough group. I would sign right now to get into another final. It is not easy and you have to do lots to get into that situation. Looking forward is not a good idea, it has to be step by step. We are in a very difficult group and tomorrow we have the first step. I don't think it's a good idea to think about the final. First we have to pass the group and then let's see."
Reflecting on how the final affected players, Rodri said;
"I think it depends on the player. In my situation you have three shit days where you cannot even talk to your family or friends. They are always there to support you but your face is not good but then this is football. We can win or lose and we move on. In defeat you learn more than in victories."
Praise for Jack Grealish from his teammate.
"Jack is a young guy, he was 26 the other day. he played at Aston Villa so doesn't have much European experience but that's not imporant. We want his level, his quality, the way he fits into the team."
"We want his level, his quality, the way he fits into the team."
Rodri was asked if having a tougher group this season will benefit the team.
"They always say we have easy groups, now we have a very tough group and we're going to show the same level. We're going to go for it. I cannot tell you anything else. Tomorrow we have the first step. I think the first games are the most important so we can follow a good road into the group and if we can win the first two or three games that would be perfect because we can then relax a little bit but it isn't going to be easy."
Next up was Pep Guardiola. He was first asked about what he learned from the Blues' run to the Champions League final.
"The first game in the group stage and we talk about the latter stages? We have to deserve to be there. Every season is different. We made an incredible tournament and we made an icnredible group stage. Now we start the new one."
Pep was asked if he is over the loss yet.
"Sport is always a new challenge. What happened in the past happened in the past. We start this competition fortunate to be involved and try to win the first game of many. All group stages are difficult and we're going to do a good game tomorrow."
City face Dani Olmo tomorrow, a Spaniard who has had a rise to the top of the game and has been linked to Barcelona. Pep was full of praise, naturally.
"Dani grew up in the Barcelona academy where it is not easy. He went to Dinamo Zagreb which takes personality and courage. he grew up a lot there and Leipzig in the last years have been one of the best three teams in Germany. He's playing with the Spanish national team. That is not easy to be involved there. He played really well and what happens in the future will depend on him, his agents, the clubs."
"He played really well and what happens in the future will depend on him, his agents, the clubs."
Guardiola was asked for his verdict on City's group this season.
"When I start this competition every season ask about being the favourites and I cannot answer you because I don't know. It is unpredictable, there are many strong teams. It is compeltely different ot when I started with barcelona. The group stage is difficult, Leipzig are always complicated. What we have seen from them, the philosophy of their club, the Red Bull philosophy with young, dynamic players who play narrow in all sense. One step at a time. Tomorrow is Leipzig, it is so imporant to start well, especially at home. When you have such a tough schedule, people go with the national teams and come back injured, and have to recover for a long time, you ahve to think about it day by day."
Guardiola gave his say on whether he still wants to win the Champions League. Unshockingly, he still does.
"Every time I start this competition with drive. I'm incredibly happy here. Man City made a step forward alst season, we improved a lot. We had 13 games and we won 11. We played icnreidbly well in Porto when we drew and deserved to win. We lost the final. People can say Man City was a failure but it was an incredible achievement last season playing really well in many of the games and losing well against a big contender. Now we start a new one and every team wants to win. We're going ot try but I won't tell you which team is going to win because I don't know it. We're going to train this afternoon and try to continue the rhythm from Norwich, Arsenal and Leicester."
City made a step forward last season in Europe.
"The most important thing for the club is we were always in this competition in the last years. We do really well, which is why we deserve to be there. After that, ompete with the best teams in Europe. It is not guaratneed that if you do a really bad CL season you're going ot do a really bad CL season again and it is the same with the opposite. We have to regain to fight to deserve to be in the next stages. The first target is to win tomorrow, try to continue the rhythm and the way we played last season and the last three games, and see what happens. After, there is Southampton and then Chelsea, PSG and Liverpool. Hopefully they come back from the national teams as healthy as they go."
Pep was quizzed on whether teams need to go through adversity and whether the defeat to Lyon in 2020 helped the squad.
"I'm pretty sure. The players have feelings and soul and it hurts when you cannot achieve something. For them, it is a new challenge to try it. When these guys win three of the last four Premier League, every year we ahve the feeling we can do better. They want it but there are many teams who want it too. It depends on how you arrive, for injuries, for mood. We are just in September, the final is in May. Many things can happen so the best way I learned from my period as a football player is about the next game."
"I'm pretty sure. The players have feelings and soul and it hurts when you cannot achieve something. For them, it is a new challenge to try it."
Pep was questioned on the high expectations that he has to win the Champions League with City.
"I accept it. Every year is the same. If i win the CL I will be happy for the club. If I'm not able to do it, I'm not able. After, you can judge the success of my period. i try to do my best every single day, winning or not winning. People judge my job like I judge my players and how incredibly they've done in the last five years."
Pep was asked about Rodri's improvement since joining the club.
"He played really well. The national team helped him a lot to develop his skills and we're going to help him because he's a young player. When you play in September or October, the decision is how he behaves in a specific moment. Sometimes I make a mistake. If he can understand he can be a better player, he will do it."
All quotes as quoted by Manchester Evening News.
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