Guardiola: Desire and passion, not tactics, key in Champions League

By Sports Desk July 04, 2020

Pep Guardiola has challenged Manchester City to approach the final stages of this season's Champions League with the desire and passion to become kings of Europe. 

City return to action at Southampton on Sunday after a resounding 4-0 victory over the Liverpool side who deposed them as Premier League champions. 

Such is the scale of Liverpool's lead at the top of the table – Thursday's reverse merely trimmed it to 20 points – that the Champions League has long been the competition that looks likely to define City's season, even allowing for the fact they could add the FA Cup to an already retained EFL Cup. 

Having swept the board domestically during his Etihad Stadium tenure, Guardiola is aiming to complete the set by lifting a trophy he has not won since prevailing twice with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011. 

City hold a 2-1 first-leg lead over Real Madrid ahead of their August return, which could be moved from Manchester to Lisbon if UEFA rule a game in the United Kingdom to be unworkable due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Guardiola acknowledged a confidence boost from thrashing Liverpool and believes it will be essential to harness a positive mentality against Madrid - lending greater weight to this than the bright tactical tweaks that bested Jurgen Klopp's side. 

"Every game is different from the other one," he said. "I cannot deny that beating Liverpool the way we beat them gives us… football is feelings, is moments. 

"Sometimes your mood is up, sometimes it's down and you face these games. We beat maybe the best team in the world right now. We can do it. 

"Madrid play in a different way, we have to adjust to their qualities. What I want is to arrive in the best conditions possible for these games. 

"These games are not won with tactics and ideas. It is desire, it's is passion. We want to do it. And when one team wants to do it, okay they can be beaten, but it will not be easy for the opponent." 

Lisbon will also host the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals of this season's competition as a mini-tournament, with a switch to one-off games from the standard two-legged format. 

That would at least spare City from exiting on away goals again, as was the case in their respective 2017 and 2019 knockout ties against Monaco and Tottenham, which finished 6-6 and 4-4 respectively. 

Guardiola does not want those setbacks, uncertainty over where the Madrid game will be staged or City's ongoing case with UEFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to build a perception of his club being doomed in their quest for Champions League glory. 

"This club is fantastic and we learn to accept our defeats. It is part of football, part of life," he said. "Learn from this, maybe one day we will be lucky 

"I know exactly what happened all the time in the last years in the Champions League. It is a competition where the details make the difference. 

"In the second leg against Madrid we would love to be here, in our city to feel close to our people. But we will go where UEFA decides we have to play. If we have to go to Portugal, we will go." 

CAS is soon set to deliver its verdict on whether City's appeal against a two-year ban from UEFA competitions for Financial Fair Play breaches will be upheld. 

"We are waiting. I have a lot of confidence and trust that we will be allowed to play in the Champions League," Guardiola added. 

"On July 13 we'll know the resolution and hopefully for the club, for all the workers, staff and everyone we can continue to grow up as a club in the next years." 

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