"Without Akanji, we'd be in real trouble..." – Rodri and Pep Guardiola pre Sevilla Press Conference
Rodri and Pep Guardiola faced the media ahead of Manchester City's Champions League group stage opener against Julen Lopetegui's Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan tomorrow for an 8 pm (BST) kick-off.
First up was Rodri.
Any difficulty in getting over Real Madrid result, and if the club are now better equipped:
"When you finish the season you see what you did good and can improve and move on. We did a great season. We didn’t arrive to the Champions League final and the FA Cup but the season was good, we won the Premier League. New players, new goals and targets for the season. You have to adapt to what the coach wants with new players. It will be different this year with the World Cup. We have a lot of ambition."
On Erling Haaland:
"We know the player he is, not just in the Champions League but how he plays. He’s improving a lot, he’s trying to fit into the team. We know his goals but he wants to improve in the game. He’s so young and wants to improve. It’s a tricky competition and you need these types of players. You won’t always be in good moments. You can pass it to him and he scores from nothing. Hopefully, he continues in this sense."
The start to the season:
"I think we had a great start. Obviously, we have two draws but we know how tough the Premier League is. Look at the results, no one is winning easy. We know it is like this. We want to improve every day."
"They have a great manager - he works really well - and Sevilla have great players, it’s true a few players have left but they are always a competitive team, especially at home. They will be attacking all the time."
On the fixture schedule:
"It is what it is, been the same the last years but without a World Cup. Every three days is normal, I don’t know if it’s the best for players but we have to adapt. You need a long team with everyone involved, [just] 11 players is impossible. We start this run and it’s the moment you have to take care more and balance everything and give everything. Everyone involved too, everyone will be important."
More on Sevilla:
"I don't think any situation is ideal. It is true they have not collected the results they wanted in La Liga but I saw their match against Barcelona and they played well. At home, they can hurt you. We will be on high alert because we know it will be a very demanding game. Sevilla have a great squad and we will have to be good to beat them."
"Keep doing what we have been doing - playing our own football. We have to impose our style. To play an abrasive team like Sevilla, we have to be at our best and focus on ourselves. They have their weapons. We are looking tactically at how to approach them."
"I don't know what to say to that [Sevilla's form], you can look at that two ways, either make the most of a moment like this or Sevilla come back stronger. We are not really giving this thought - we have to put everything into context. Sevilla haven't had the results they want but they are a good squad and that’s what we are looking at."
Next up: Pep Guardiola:
Update on John Stones and Kyle Walker after the pair were absent from the listed 21-man travelling squad:
"Injured, both are injured. We are lucky the club give me Manuel Akanji otherwise we [would] be in real trouble. The club moved quick to bring in another player in this position. The history for John and Nathan [Ake] they aren’t quite reliable to play every week. It is what it is. Mainly because of this incredible [fixture] schedule for many years, the players cannot sustain it for a long time."
On the severity of the injuries:
"John is not much. Kyle is not much too, but I don't know if he will be ready for Saturday, or Dortmund or Wolves before the international break. Yes [muscular issue]."
On the Champions League/Europe:
"Sport not just football, always you get another opportunity. It’s a difficult competition, proud to be here again. We try since day one, but we didn’t get much but the last years to the last stages. I don’t know, tomorrow on the pitch, against BVB, Copenhagen. It depends on our performance. If we are not good we go home and get punishments from fans and media and then after a while move forward. Last season we fought to be here, we know how difficult it will be. Spanish teams dominate Europe, I’d love to have a story like Sevilla has, City are far away from Sevilla in Europe. Tomorrow don’t miss the spectacle in this stadium. We try and do a good game and try to do three points."
First time seeing Haaland in the Champions League:
"I remember [watching] one game in the locker room, he scored 3, 4 goals."
More on Haaland and him potentially making the difference:
"All the players they try to make us better, otherwise makes no sense. That helps us to win titles, I don’t know. If we rely all on Erling’s shoulders we don’t win the Champions League. We try to create chances for him to score goals. We convinced him to come here, we felt we didn’t have many strikers. Try to be involved in the way we play. He settles well like Julian [Alvarez] and other players. I understand everyone talks about Erling but I have 3, 4, 5 new players and it’s important they all settle. We don’t win just for Erling and don’t lose just for Erling. He has a special quality and might be able to solve some problems. If we don’t play good we aren’t going to win games."
Written by: @NA1907_
Quotes as quoted by Manchester Evening News and Manchester City.
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