Pep Guardiola warned Manchester City they must be more ruthless to reach the Champions League final after edging a 4-3 thriller against Real Madrid in the semi-final first leg at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
While Guardiola’s team will take a slender advantage to the Santiago Bernabéu for the return next Wednesday, he is conscious the tie is far from over after they spurned a series of chances having taken a 2-0 lead, with Karin Benzema scoring twice either side of a brilliant individual goal from Vinicius Júnior.
Guardiola said: “Regardless of the result, if it was 2-0 or 3-0 we would still have to go to Bernabéu and play well. If we play like we did in the second half, we won’t be able to win. If we play like we did at other periods, we will. We want to be there to put on a good show, that 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 Bernabéu 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.”
Guardiola was visibly upset during the game at his team’s profligacy. “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.
“We played a fantastic game against an incredible team. The moments where they rise and come back into the game in the first half I think we gave them as our build-up was so nervous. Normally we are so safe and so good. Also they press really good and strong. All around the world and for Manchester City, we are so proud. But it is about reaching the final and sometimes football happens. We are going to Madrid to try to win the game.”
Carlo Ancelotti stated that, if his side defend better in Spain, they will progress to the final against Liverpool or Villarreal. Guardiola smiled when asked about this. “I always agree with Carlo,” he said.
“It’s clear that we need to defend better. We were good with the ball, made chances and in end-to-end games you need to defend better. That’s really important.
“It’s a defeat that leaves us alive in the Bernabéu in the second leg. We need to be better defensively and we believe we can create problems for them in the second leg.”
Benzema’s two goals included a cheeky panenka-style penalty, after missing three spot-kicks earlier in the month. The France No 9 said: “I always have it in my head that if you don’t take a penalty, you will never miss a penalty. That’s mental confidence and that’s all. I have a lot of confidence in myself.”
Source: The Guardian