"The harmony is best it's ever been at City" - Pep and Joao Cancelo pre Sporting Press Conference
Pep Guardiola gave his now standard squad head check in his pre match press conference, along with talking about the confidence and harmony at City right now. Joao Cancelo gave us a view on Sporting from a ex-Benfica player perspective and his relationship with the Manchester City boss.
The fitness check:
"He's [Jack Grealish] better but tomorrow isn't available alongside Cole Palmer and Gabriel [Jesus]."
"To go better than last season isn't easy. We're excited and happy to be at this stage. I know how important the Champions League, but we take serious every Premier League game, we saw how tough Norwich was. Confidence always was high, not just now, the previous seasons."
On questions if City 'need' to win the Champions League:
"Ask whatever you want, as many time as you want. It doesn't bother me, it means we are here in the Champions League. It's an honour to travel to Portugal to try and win the game. On the pitch we take chances, the rest is open to read and write. As much as we want or don't want, it's the players on the pitch."
On City's form:
"We lost in Leipzig. We are on a good run. In Leipzig we were not mentally ready but the rest we were there. We perform for ourselves. We want to behave every game, every three days. It won't be an exception tomorrow."
"I've been in this business as a manager, you get criticised if you don't get results. Otherwise do another job. Not a problem. We know our standards, I accept everything."
Harmony is the word:
"We have incredible harmony in the team, that's the main target for me, to fight every day. The rest, the players will do the rest.
"The harmony right now this season is exceptional. For many reasons. We know each other well, accept many things for all of us, six seasons. We know each other perfectly and accept good things and bad things, everyone's desire to play and fight."
"[The harmony is good] because I'm an easy going man, so easy to work with and create a good environment."
"Always there has been harmony, otherwise we cannot win. Always we arrive players, never had a problem with the team. Right now everyone at the end the most important thing to fight for is have a good relationship with each other and fight.
"Every day they are enemies to fight for one position, but after they have to be brothers in the weekend. In the week it is not easy. Being problems because everyone wants to play, respect for each other and decisions to be made."
On the two year ban being implemented two years ago:
"At the end, City proved we are not [guilty against UEFA]. We would like to prove always we have done properly and following the rules. When we win it's on the pitch."
Staying at City?
"I'm not going to be Sir Alex Ferguson, don't worry. One year and a half is a long time in football."
"This harmony (yes, again) helps, the last 20 games we won 18 and lost one in Leipzig when we don't play for anything. I know all the guys, being sometimes disappointed by not playing minutes, the rest is impossible to complain - the physios, sport science, everyone is there."
"At the end, win or lose is random, you don't know what happens. When we are together to beat opponents and big smiles. When you have bad faces it's impossible top improve. The rest is not important."
"Training to predict what will happen but nobody know, we practice to do our best. You can train defensive corners but you concede a corner. Important is when we are here try to do our best and so far we don't have regrets."
Finally, on the opposition:
"Portugal always has incredibly competitive. We fought against Porto last season and realised how strong they are. They had an incredible recruitment of players, so competitive. After a while the biggest stars fly to Spain or England or Germany or France."
"What I saw from Sporting, togetherness, relation between manager and team and this is the most important thing. Physical team, incredible runners in behind. They were champions after many years, beating Porto and Benfica is because they are a good team."
"They won the group stage against Ajax and Dortmund who are a good Champions League team. They beat them because they are good. A few games watching, I was really impressed."
"We [will] show who we are in Portugal and show people who we are and after the result follows. It's two games and we accept the challenge to face them and do a good two games."
Any advice for Sporting manager, Rúben Amorim?
"Maybe I get advice for him. His career is going well, his personality, the way they play. The minute one try to win the game. I'm sure he's excited and hopefully he can be excited after 14 years to travel to the Champions League last 16."
Joao Cancelo, Joao Cancelo, Joao Cancelo:
"We are a very strong team. The players we have know how to deal with the pressure but we're going again the best teams in Europe. It's a difficult competition, but we embrace the pressure and have an obligation to win. The players work to win the Champions League and that's what we aim to do."
"We're in a good phase, not conceding many goals and scoring a lot. It reflects our daily work together. Liverpool and Chelsea are very strong opponents and we can't be complacent. We need to go into every game to win three points. That's what we do in the league, now in the Champions League, we're thinking about Sporting and we try to win."
"As I said before, my teammates haven't won the Champions League yet. We're not obliged to win it but every year we go into the competition to win. The best players are here, we have the players and quality to reach the final."
Sporting from a Benfica view:
"I want to win against Sporting the same way against other clubs. I'm a Benfica supporter, that's where I went through. I'm representing City, I want to beat Sporting, not just as a Benfica supporter, but because they're our opponents."
"I have some memories [against Sporting], when I was younger in the youth teams I won more than I lost. Sporting are a big club, they have a great setup, Cristiano, Figo and Nani came through. We have to value Sporting, a great club."
"We [ex-Benfica players] put rivalry to one side. Benfica is in my heart but I'm a City player. We always have desire to win, every game I think this team with our squad has so much quality. We need to go into every big game looking to win."
"A young team, a real desire to win. Sporting have won trophies they haven't won for years. Credit to the players and to Ruben [Amorim]. He was a very good player and is an excellent coach."
"I was surprised, I never imagined Ruben [Amorim] becoming a manager [ex-teammate of Cancelo] but I really like the way he goes, his interviews and the way his teams play. It was going to be a breath of fresh air for Portuguese football."
On his relationship with Pep:
"Complications with the coach [Pep Guardiola early on] of the way the team were playing. I had a different way of playing at Juventus, I wanted to enjoy football and enjoy playing. It was my responsibility more than the coach, It was my fault."
"I recovered with my desire to win in life and in football. I'm happy and credit to me because there was a lot of desire to become the player I am today."
On the break in on his house a few weeks ago:
"That's life, it happens. It was horrific, it terrorised my whole family. I know how to deal with it but my family didn't deserve to go through that. There have been lots of obstacles in my life and I have to get over them.
"I'm a stronger player mentally and that's how I want to go on. I could drop my head, but I always like to think positively and that is how I can live my life in the best way possible."
How it is at the moment:
"We take things game by game. We know we have one of the best teams in Europe. Winning the Champions League isn't an obligation, you go up against the best players and teams. We're capable but it's not an obligation."
"We have top players. It's good people put this pressure on us [to win the Champions League]. It's a sign people think we're capable of winning it. We know we're capable, but there isn't an obligation."
General stuff, as they say:
"Italy was very important for me, Inter and Juve, two huge clubs. Pep [Guardiola] has been huge tactically. Technically I have always been good, tactically I improved a lot in Italy. It was a time of learning, I liked living in Turin/Milan."
"Being Portuguese I didn't like what I saw [Porto vs Sporting bust up]. Players are human, we need to represent the team we're playing for. I think that's what happened, I won't criticise. I've also had some bad attitudes. It's not a good image."
Written by: @coIgcra
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