Pep Guardiola admits to being unsure whether Manchester City are now better equipped to handle difficult moments in their Champions League quarter-final second leg at Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday but stated he would be “crazy” not to trust his players after 27 wins from the past 29 games.
City hold a 2-1 advantage as they seek to progress to the semi-finals for the first time under Guardiola. The manager’s team have been knocked out at this stage in the past three seasons: by Liverpool (5-1 on aggregate), Tottenham (4-4, on away goals) and Lyon (3-1).
Guardiola was asked about the comments of Ilkay Gündogan, who referenced the mistakes made in those ties, and how the match on Wednesday may show whether City can now deal better with setbacks.
“About controlling emotions, what happens in the game, many circumstances happen,” Guardiola said.
“I don’t know. They are human beings – people forget about it – and human beings have feelings and situations happen. After 27 victories in 29 games, if I don’t trust the players we have a big, big problem. I would be crazy.
“Tomorrow we can win or we can lose; I don’t know what’s going to happen. But [if I don’t trust them whatever happens] you should kill me, that’s for sure. What we’ve done so far, we deserve to be in the position we are right now.”
A relaxed Guardiola did not directly answer when asked how great a mental test the second leg would be. “I would say it’s a pleasure to be here again,” he said.
“Next season we’ll be here again [too] because we have already qualified for the next Champions League. We’ve prepared these last two days. We are looking forward. Many things can happen, nothing is guaranteed. We have a good result from the first game.”
Gündogan urged the team to be calm. “We need to learn that it is normal to struggle,” the midfielder said. “Playing against the best teams in Europe it is normal.
Maybe it is something we are not used to – going behind and conceding or struggling because we are used to dominating games and having possession, but it is completely normal in the Champions League to struggle.
“In the first leg [against Tottenham in 2019] we conceded a goal but still had 12 minutes to play [losing 1-0] so dealing with that situation is something we might need to learn still. These stages will show it now but it is something we need to accept.”
Sergio Agüero remains injured but Aymeric Laporte is available again.