ISTANBUL — Pep Guardiola said it is his “dream” and “obsession” to win Manchester City‘s first Champions League title as the Premier League champions bid to achieve a ‘treble’ by defeating Inter Milan in Saturday’s final in Istanbul.
City, who were beaten 1-0 by Chelsea in their only preview Champions League final appearance in 2021, face three-time European champions Inter having already won the league and FA Cup this season. Victory at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium would see City emulate Manchester United‘s achievement in 1999 as the only English club to date to do the treble.
Having been hired by City in 2016 to turn City into Champions League winners, Guardiola has so far been unable to deliver the ultimate club prize.
“It’s a dream, yes.” Guardiola said. “It has to be. To achieve things, you always have to have the correct level of obsession or desire. Obsession is a positive word for the desire to do it, but of course it’s a dream.
“We know how important it is. I don’t control what the people have opinions about, I just focus on what we have to do. I saw Inter’s games and we try to do our game. Everything finishes with a game and the team who performs best over 95 minutes will win.
“Inter Milan is bigger than us, in terms of history in this competition, and we are favourites to win the game, but what’s important is that, at 10 p.m. Istanbul time, we do the best performance possible and that can make the difference.”
Erling Haaland‘s 12 goals so far in this season’s competition is the best return by any City player during a Champions League campaign.
And Guardiola, when asked about the secret of his success as a coach, said that the Norway forward is as important as Lionel Messi was to his Barcelona teams.
“Have good players,” Guardola said. “Have Messi, have Haaland, this is my success. I’m not joking.
“Let them think alone that they cannot do it, that together they make a strong team.
“Every manager who has had success have strong institutions and exceptional players. I’ve never scored a goal as a manager.”
Having lost against Chelsea in Porto two years ago, Guardiola says his players are now ready to avenge that defeat and win the Champions League.
“It’s a different game, different players,” he said. “I’m pretty sure what we planned was to have success and a good game against Chelsea. It didn’t work, people say decisions were wrong, but we have a plan and an idea.
“I’ll communicate it to the players. If we win it will be good and I’ve a feeling we are ready.
“The players will give everything, knowing the opponent, but yeah — go for it.
“We have to be stable, defend well and be patient. The most important thing is not to think at 0-0 you are losing.
“Italian teams can think at 0-0 they are winning and they are not. In both circumstances you have to be stable.”
Guardiola, meanwhile, urged the club’s supporters to end their antipathy towards UEFA and focus on backing the team against Inter. City fans have booed the UEFA anthem since being fined for breaching financial regulations in 2014, but Guardiola wants that to end.
“It’s a day to celebrate,” he said. “Inter fans, Man City fans, it’s a day to celebrate. The Champions League is an incredible competition, we are not going to boo anymore and support the game and try to have fun.”
Pep: Winning Man City’s first UCL a ‘dream’ and ‘obsession’