Pep Guardiola and Kevin De Bruyne spoke to the press ahead of Manchester City's Champions League last 16 second leg at the Etihad Stadium against RB Leipzig on Tuesday night. The pair discussed City's current form, the opposition threat, and the club's desire to win the competition.
PL representation in the UCL:
"Chelsea went through. We see what happens with Liverpool. I'm not thinking about the pressure of defending the UK. Every team in the past goes 2, 3, 4 teams in the quarter finals from same country, everyone says it's the best league. This league is good, like Spain, Germany, Italy. This competition, like FA Cup, one game, two games, many things are involved. Things you can't control, I'm not a fan to make theories that - the result depends who you are."
Is the UCL special?
"Absolutely, is a lovely competition, it is so nice! Playing the teams from another part of Europe. The same teams, stadiums in England. So nice to be there in Europe, show our club all around Europe. I like it!"
We want to win the UCL:
"It's the same with many theories about this club. We cannot control it. It's nice at the start of the season we are the main candidates [to win the UCL], main favourites in this competition. Something we've done in the past, otherwise they don't consider it. Reality is 95 minutes on the pitch. Leipzig, after the draw, even before the first leg, they are a really good team. Any team in England: Napoli, Milan, Madrid, they are too. A lot of qualities, many strengths. We have to impose our game, we have to win the game. Easy, not how many goals to score. Just win the game."
Want to go into the break in three comps:
"Really important. Not just for a better international break, for the fact to be alive last two months of the season. As much to extend being alive, in the FA Cup and Europe, to be close to Arsenal, it will be good."
Trophies is the aim:
"That is why we're here. I didn't know any team or manager that didn't try to win a competition. Everyone wants it to win it. [We are] not an exception."
How many players have the same reset mentality as Haaland?
"Barcelona was many, Bayern a lot. Otherwise we don't win titles. The mentality to score goals, a holding midfielder or defender, make a mistake [and it] doesn't matter, a good action next one. A keeper concedes a goal, you don't have a lot of them, you don't have a chance. The biggest factor for a team for 95 minutes. Tomorrow we are going to suffer, how you behave in those moments is key."
Erling Haaland's build up play:
"It's important. I don't like one player just to score goals in the box. It's important, we need it of him. But away from opponents box and he cannot score a goal we need him to be active. We have to take a look at him, and he has to be involved. He has improved, can be better."
Kevin De Bruyne's form:
"[It has been a] difficult season for all of us, me included. The World Cup, many things. I'm not going to score for Kevin, it's his ability. I'd like him to go to the principles. He as incredible ability to score and passes. Always I believe they will increase with simple things, don't lose the balls. Simple things, do it again, get better. When this happens, the rest will come. Like Erling, he will score and be involved, it means you are inside of the game. Kevin is the same, the simple things perfectly, move outside inside, attack the channels. The actions to create incredible passes will be easier."
Manchester City 6-3 RB Leipzig last season:
"Different manager, different team. I don't pay any attention to last season. First half we were better, second half they were better. We tried to figure out what to do, adjust a few things for more control and play a bit better."
"Always I believe the transition games is a coin. Goes in your favour or not. Knockout game, maybe we need more control. The game will dictate what we do."
Public opinion will always be defined by the UCL?
"That doesn't mean I agree, but absolutely, we'll be judged for that competition. My first press conference here, they say are you here to win the Champions League? If I was manager for Real Madrid I understand, but as much as we go through, won't change it."
Nkunku and Schlager are injured for RB Leipzig:
"They are so aggressive in the high pressing, have an incredible build-up, us the keeper. Eight players inside, two incredible wide full-backs. You close inside they go to full-backs. When you defend outside they have more players inside. They are so difficult to control. Have to be in the right tempo for pressing. Nkunku is exceptional, they live lots without him. I hope for a speedy recovery. Try to find our spaces and places, our quality to punish them. Hopefully defend because we are better. We have to win the game, and to win we have to try. Will be a good game, they have a fantastic team. At Munich they were in second tier, since then, they do incredible. I'm a big fan!"
Now, Kevin De Bruyne is speaking:
"It'll be a tough game, Leipzig are tough. We played them last year, I saw them, they're doing really well. High energy game, will be tough. If you want to win the Champions League you must be the best team in Europe. We've been in quarters and semis but not done the end bit. We'll try like every year."
"It's been fine this year, the league has changed a bit. The lower teams are able to spend more money and buy better players, all the teams have so much quality. The level of difficulty is getting tougher. We are second, in three competitions. In comparison with other years, I feel not different. There are some games we should have won and some we shouldn't, it depends."
Is this the best City team KDB has played in?
"I don't know, how can you compare the team of seven years ago to this. I've been lucky, there are different players. How can I compare the season with 100 points to winning four domestic titles. It makes no sense. I'm happy and lucky I've been there to do this stuff. Hopefully we can do the same with this team."
"No [winning UCL won't make this the best City team]. I don't see it that way. If we just win the Champions League and nothing else you can call the best in Europe but I don't know. What are the criteria for being the best team in the league Everyone has their own opinion, we want to be the best every year. Eight years has been pretty great."
"I don't judge it or think about it. You can't compare any eras anyway. Different football, pitches, intensity. Everything has changed. I feel happy playing and happy I don't have to debate these things. It's a big talking point for a lot of people."
Linking up with Erling Haaland:
"It's a bit of everything, It's not more different than the beginning, people are more anticipating to his runs. There's always the first half and second half of the season, teams are more organized, they play for more. People are more prepared. Maybe he was more prolific when he got the chances, but we don't need to complain about him in any way. He's fine, if you see Palace, he had two or three chances, there's no issue. People are always anticipating him to score two or three goals [every game], his average is a goal a game. Seems fine to me."
Tired of talking winning the UCL:
"If you care about the noise [it can affect you], we've not won it but we've done really well. People base everything on only winning. There's a lot of circumstances, the Madrid game, Tottenham, we deserved to go through. Moments in games, these things happen. I want to win it, but I know as long as we don't, I'll get the same questions. If people judge you on that, we just try and win the games, be the best version we can be."
Is KDB an old man?
"I'm an old man in this game [football], I'm not an old man. I'm pretty young. I know how it works, when people talk about you, you notice these things a lot more. People talk about form, how you play, it's give or take. I know how to manage. I don't know how long I've got left, as long as I'm having fun I'll keep on playing. There will come a day, I don't know when..."
Regret not winning the UCL?
"I don't regret the things I do. Whatever competition I try to win. You lose more than you win. I've won a lot, I'm fortunate."
Counter-intuitive style of play with Haaland?
"Yes and no, sometimes it's good to have different options. In the last few years we don't have the presence in the box, now people say the opposite. At the start of the season, winning lots of games: nothing going wrong. Lose a few points: it's different. I don't feel any issue, nothing going out of the team. People outside will judge, maybe we play a better brand of football in other years, but other games, Palace at home he won us the game. The team is really happy, he's happy playing with us, we're fine."
KDB the new Fernandinho?
"I'm not going to be fully the same. In 17/18 I played more holding, for the national team I played five years more holding. I've no idea, people say when you get older you go lower. For me it's opposite. I've been low, left, right. I change less now, it's the coach's decision. I will never be a Fernandinho, he's an unbelievable number six."
"I'm a perfectionist. Whatever I do in football, normal life. I want to be 100%. If the time comes I want to think, it's not necessarily important now. If I think about it right now, I want to stay as high as possible for as long as possible. It's not only my decision. Something to think about."
"The risk to underestimate isn't big. We've played them three times, we know what team it is. High in energy, quality, intensity. The Red Bull DNA, players in the middle, aggressive. They make it a tough game. I played against them with Wolfsburg, pretty similar. Kimmich and Poulsen still there. The quality is always there. They took a step from second division to top four and Champions League. You can't do this without quality. I'm very aware of what threats they have. Hopefully we manage that tomorrow."
Written by: @colgeogcra
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