“In the first Champions League match I coached Man City, people asked me if you came here to win the Champions League?”, Pep said in an interview before the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 against RB Leipzig at dawn. March 15 morning (Hanoi time).
“I said: What? If I were the Real Madrid coach and had to be under that kind of pressure, I could understand. But here (Man City), I don’t know,” explained Pep. The two-time Champions League winner as a coach understands how owners from the UAE aspire to the top of Europe, but they also need to know that Man City does not have “DNA”, or a winning culture like many big clubs. other.
Winning the Champions League is not easy
The appearance of Pep is a necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition. The Spaniard himself has repeatedly failed to overcome the pressure in the European playing field in the past decade. At Bayern Munich, Pep was also embarrassed many times at the prestigious tournament of the old continent.
And in fact, Pep and Man City are not the only ones who find that winning the Champions League is not easy, especially for teams that have never won it. Ask PSG. Even if they have Lionel Messi, Neymar or Kylian Mbappe in their squad, success in Europe has always eluded this club.
There are certain similarities between Man City and PSG in the Champions League arena. Both teams received oil money from the Middle East, played the first Champions League final in history under their new owners this century, and both failed. The biggest difference between Man City and PSG probably lies in the way the superstructure operates, when the representative of England achieves stability.
Pep is representative of that stability of the green half of Manchester. He is one of the best strategists in the world right now. However, the Champions League is a completely different story. The fact that Pep is repeatedly dissatisfied with questions about the pressure to win the Champions League says a lot.
“I’m a good coach and I know what to do or not to do,” Pep told reporters when asked about his decision not to make a substitution after the 1-1 draw against Leipzig in the first leg. “The fact that I have five substitutions doesn’t mean I have to do it. Maybe in the second leg I will do something crazy and launch nine strikers.” Man City captain said: “You expect us to come here (Leipzig pitch – PV) and win 4-0? I’m sorry, it’s not that easy.”
The last time Leipzig came to be a guest at the Etihad Stadium, the German representative played a stormy attack. They are very brave and daring. Christopher Nkunku scored a hat-trick. The first leg match in the last 16 of the Champions League last month continued to prove that Leipzig is not an easy team to play against Man City.
Pep is right in saying that a draw at Leipzig is not a bad result for the English club. Champions League knockout matches are always difficult, especially when Man City is always obsessed with winning this tournament.
Even if Man City is rated higher than the opponent, no one can forget their bitter defeats against Lyon or Tottenham in the previous Champions League seasons.
Man City must be realistic
The “Champions League curse” is always something that is not easy to break. PSG will have to wait until next season to have the opportunity to do it again, and it is unlikely that Lionel Messi or Kylian Mbappe will continue with the project of the Qatari owner. The defeat of the reigning Ligue 1 champions is the clearest proof for the people of Man City how difficult the Champions League dream is.
Even Real Madrid, the team often cited by Pep this season as an example of success in the Champions League, also went through a period of “Champions League curse”. Since the 2001/02 European Championship, “Los Blancos” took 12 years to taste the glory of the Champions League.
For more than a decade, they were regularly eliminated early in the round of 16. There was a period of 6 consecutive years (from 2004 to 2010), the Royal Spanish Club was continuously eliminated from the round of 16. Everything changed only after coach Carlo Ancelotti, a Champions League specialist, helped Real Madrid win the tournament in the 2013/14 season. In fact, coach Ancelotti also once admitted luck in that year’s Champions League final against Atlteico Madrid.
If Sergio Ramos had not headed the equalizer in injury time, the fate of the two Spanish capital clubs in this arena could have been reversed. Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone is also another perfect example to show that winning the Champions League also needs more grace.
Since the bitter defeat in Lisbon (Portugal) 9 years ago, Atletico and Simeone have once reached the final of the tournament, but lost on penalties to Real. With the decline in the past few years, it can be said that the door for Atletico to win the Champions League is now very narrow.
Man City people should feel proud because the current model still helps the English club maintain its position as the top candidate before each Champions League season. Even if they fail this season, Pep claims he will try again in the future. That is the greatest value that the Catalan strategist brings to the Etihad Stadium team.
Tuong Linh | 11:05 March 14, 2023