"He announced to us that he doesn’t want to extend..." - Rodri and Pep Guardiola Press Conference Highlights (vs Real Madrid)
The big one is upon us. Manchester City bring a 2-1 lead back to the Etihad Stadium as they face Real Madrid in the Champions League Round of 16 second leg. Despite falling behind, goals from Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne gave City a well deserved lead.
Rodrigo joined Pep Guardiola for this one as they faced the media...
Rodri describes the mood in the camp
Ahead of the game, Spanish midfielder Rodrigo has been speaking about how the players are feeling about the tie:
"We are in a good mood. We are so confident in ourselves. We are very excited for the game tomorrow and it is a long time since the last match but we have been thinking about the game and we are so focused on it. We know it is going to be very tough."
"If we do a good match tomorrow, for sure we are going to have lots of chances. We have made a great effort since we came back and the team is in a good mood. We are calm and ready for the match tomorrow. It is going to be very, very tough. We want to win this game because we know we can."
"We will be happy for us to go through but beating this kind of team [Real Madrid] would be a big confidence boost for us. We know we want to win the #UCL so we can only focus on one game. It is important to win tomorrow."
"We are focused and the confidence of the team is to get this goal - it is so important for the club. It is a dream for everyone, for me. Tomorrow we have this amazing match that is a final for us but we have the confidence that it is a long tournament."
Hunting for trophies
Rodrigo also admitted the fact that Manchester City challenge for major prizes such as the Champions League was a major factor behind him making the switch from La Liga giants Atletico Madrid last summer:
"My goal was winning every single tournament. There is one left this season, we have already achieved two and we want to make this a good season in winning the Champions League."
"It is a tournament this team hasn’t achieved and it is our dream. We have been close years before, it is a main goal and we are going to fight until the end."
Rodrigo's first season summary
It's now been a year since Rodrigo moved to Manchester City, and with that in mind, he's summed up in his own words both personally and collectively how he feels the season has gone:
"Individually, it's been an amazing year because of what I have learned as a footballer and the way I have been involved in such an amazing team. I am so happy for what I have done but for the future I think I am so happy with what is going to come."
"I am very proud of what we have done but we have to keep learning and keep growing because the following years this team is going to do very good things. It is not easy being at #ManCity but for me it is a dream."
Previewing Real Madrid
Taking on Real Madrid in recent years has been one of the hardest tasks in the world - something Manchester City proved to be capable of in the first-leg. Rodri feels tomorrow will be a different type of test:
"They [Real Madrid] are more than a team. They have that way of playing where you can never relax even if you are winning 3 or 4-0 - they always come back and have that huge personality to become the champions they have been.
It is the biggest team in this competition and they show to the world, but now football has changed a little bit it is so competitive, the distances between teams are so narrow.
I know we have the better team but we have to show it on the pitch tomorrow. If we do things well, I think everything is going to be good for us."
Rodri also doesn't think a 2-1 lead can be dangerous in terms of trying to protect a result later in the game:
"We won 2-1 on their pitch, that is so important but the most important thing is to show that we can win the #UCL, not only this match. To win the Champions Leagues we have to win our games and show we are better than anyone."
Rodri on Casemiro & Hazard
Someone who plays a similar role to Rodri in the Real Madrid side is Brazilian international, Casemiro. Rodri described him as a 'vital cog' in Madrid's side:
"Every team needs someone who brings balance and tactical discipline to the middle. Skillful players with ability can turn a game but every team needs someone who is in there controlling things in the middle. Casemiro is a vital cog in their machine."
One player who Manchester City will have a keen eye on is the tricky Belgian winger Eden Hazard, who has terrorised the Blues countless times during his spell at Chelsea:
"We want to play against opponents that have their best players on the field. You don’t need me to tell you Hazard is one of the best in the world and he can turn a game and influence a result.
It’s down to Zidane to decide whether to risk him if he isn’t fully fit, but we’re aware of the dangers he can bring and we will be ready for him if he does play."
Guardiola welcomes Aké and Torres!
Now over to Pep Guardiola; who was first asked about the signings of Ferran Torres and Nathan Aké in the past few days. His response was short and sweet:
"Welcome to both of them. Next season they will be with us."
Using the first-leg advantage
Despite the first leg being almost six months ago, Pep Guardiola is hoping to use the goal advantage as confidence in his players to play as well as they can:
"It was a long time ago when we played the first leg. We knew it after the game we would have another one here at home. It is without our people, but we will try to do a good game."
Guardiola was also asked whether his strong Barcelona connection meant the game took on any more significance:
"The fact we play against Real Madrid or not, I will always be a Barcelona supporter. It is the club where I grew up and gave me part of who I am, but when I was with Bayern and played against Real Madrid or Barcelona, I wanted to beat them.
Nothing special. I want it for our players and our club to go to the next step, I don’t lose concentration on this kind of thing because I focus on what we have to do as a team to beat Real Madrid."
Guardiola misses pre-Covid football
Pep was asked about what he's been missing about football pre-COVID 19, and what advantages it can bring to his side. Don't we all Pep, don't we all...
"I think all professionals, not just the managers, miss spectators. That is the reality but we have already adapted a little bit. Hopefully it depends on the health if we are going to play with fans, but it needs to be secure for everyone.
We want kids to go to school as soon as possible, that is more important than people coming back to stadiums."
How to react when conceding a goal
Normally, when Manchester City concede a goal, heads drop and it normally leads to more and more set backs. However this side showed in Madrid they have the ability and confidence to pick themselves up and go again - and Pep Guardiola wants to see that from his side:
"More than just conceding goals is the way we concede. If they are brilliant, we have to accept but most of them we could have avoided and we have to avoid making mistakes. This competition punishes you a lot.
We know it, we have spoken about that in the last years and we know it. If we want to make a step forward as a team to be close to winning this competition, we have to be better in this area."
Eric Garcia to leave Manchester City
So back to the earlier breaking news and something that came as a shock to everyone, including us. Pep Guardiola has confirmed breakthrough centre-back Eric Garcia does not want to extend his contract with the club. The boss said this:
"He announced to us that he doesn’t want to extend. He has one more year and after that, he doesn’t want to extend. We want it but he doesn’t want to extend it so I imagine he wants to play in other places."
Sergio Agüero fitness update
With key striker Sergio Agüero not fit to play any part in tomorrows game, Pep Guardiola has given an update on his fitness:
"He is still in Barcelona. He is getting better. I spoke with the doctors and everything is like we thought, but he is still in Barcelona so I don’t know. Hopefully he can come back and start training with us but I don’t know."
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