Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says anything less than a focused 90 minutes from his side will not see them through to the Champions League final following their 4-3 win over Real Madrid.
City got off to a fast start in Tuesday’s semi-final first leg, with goals from Kevin de Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus putting them 2-0 up within 11 minutes.
There was a sense it could have been more but whenever Guardiola’s side threatened to break the tie open, Madrid pulled a goal back.
With Casemiro likely to return for Madrid, Guardiola asserted City will have to be at their best to progress to May’s final in Paris.
“Regardless of the result, if it was 2-0 or 3-0 we would still have to go to the Bernabeu and play well. If we play like we did in the second half, we won’t be able to win,” Guardiola said.
“If we play like we did at other periods, we will. We want to be there to put on a good show, this is what I want to tell my players to do – don’t think of anything else.
“When I became a footballer and a manager, when you go to the Bernabeu you have to perform as yourself or there is no option to win. You have to come through these situations to win the Champions League.”
Pep was all of us throughout that! #ManCity pic.twitter.com/UoN6hMFROU
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 26, 2022
City were similarly vulnerable in the quarter-final second leg, holding onto a one-goal lead in the tie against Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano.
They still could have put the game and arguably the tie against Los Blancos to bed. One instance where an enraged Guardiola berated Riyad Mahrez for not squaring to Phil Foden in the first half highlighted what was at stake and the fine margins at play.
The 51-year-old took some solace in the fact City managed to get into those positions, but conceded they need to realise those kinds of opportunities at the Bernabeu.
“We miss them but we create them,” he said. “We were there all the time. No complaints about the result, the performance, anything. I am so proud of the way we perform in front of the world.
“We did everything to win and with courage – with the ball, without the ball.
“Football is football, the result is the result, but how we perform is exceptional. Nobody can say the performance was not good. We know we have to maybe raise the level to reach the final but this competition demands that. At the end maybe the chances we create we have to convert.”
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