The pain takes him inside. He left almost everything when the City of him dictated a master class collapsing the European myth of Madrid until causing its demolition, understood as such. But Pep Guardiola’s pain still nests inside him because he has been there for more than a decade without kissing that huge big ear that gives meaning and opens the door of eternity for everyone who snuggles it.
“This competition It has given me very, very sad moments that have hurt me, which will always be on my mind, but it has also given me extremely beautiful moments, which will also always be on my mind. so is the life and that’s how sport works”, has proclaimed Pep Guardiola this week just before heading to Istanbul, a city that he hopes will be like Rome (there Pep’s Barça began to write its legend in 2009 against United) or London (the place where Pep’s Barça wrote the perfect work against United, again). Now they will have the unexpected Inter Milan as a rival.
“Football gives you and takes you away. Life is full of injustices, but what is unfair for me is fair for Atlético, it is also fair for Madrid and also fair for Barça. That’s how the world works”
Guardiola, City coach
Since then, he has felt the frustration of an unfinished story in the Bayern Munich. Or a story to close in the City, including the final lost in 2021 with the Chelsea. “Football gives you and takes you away. Life is full of injustices, but what is unfair for me is fair for Atlético, it is also fair for Madrid and it is also fair for Barça. That’s how the world works,” he argues. Guardiola whose last defeat in a European final has almost acted as a catharsis.
“Ambitious, but not too greedy”
Like the fall, inexplicable from a football point of view, with Madrid last season, coinciding with the moment of greater pain of his career, questioning everything. What was the point of continuing? Was it worth it? “We always want more and more, and that is wrong. You have to be ambitious but not too greedy, ”says the Manchester City coach, who found in that descent into pain the inner strength to rebuild himself.
First to himself. And then to his team, a daily lab of the evolution of soccer. A test bench in real fire capable as is the coach of sustaining his original idea -bet on offensive football, the kingdom of the pass in the country of possession- introducing such valuable nuances -without pressure there is no life or defensive strength- that transform City into a premium product.
The City 3.0
Product worthy of permanent analysis by coaches and specialists looking for answers to problems that Guardiola is generating. Stones, mid-center. Who was going to say it! A defense made up of four center backs (Akanji, Ruben Dias, Stones himself, who comes and goes from back to front, and Ake) remaining Rodri transformed into the best midfielder in the world, with liquid forwards (what is De Bruyne? where does he play Bernardo Silva?) exploring ways for specialists (Haaland and Grealish) execute everything that is born in the mind of that creative coach who is already going through City 3.0.
An almost perfect team. A team that has moved from the ‘false nine’, a role played by Bernardo Silva, Gündogan, De Bruyne and even Foden, among others, to the sublimation of the ‘nine’ represented in the androide figura de Haaland. The Norwegian arrived and Guardiola had to fit him into that sophisticated tactical system where there was no one like him. He took a few months, while he was scoring goals.
The scream in January changed everything
From January, when Guardiola exploded anticipating a problem that led him to the perdition, everything changed. “If we keep playing like this, Arsenal will destroy us,” warned the coach, who in a harangue more typical of Cruyff than his, laid the foundations for the reconstruction. “We are a team of happy flowers, but I don’t want that”, Guardiola shouted to wake up a City that lived in the happiness of past successes.
“We are a team of happy flowers,” Guardiola denounced in January when he verified that complacency had settled in his dressing room. Since then, he has won the League and the FA Cup.
“I adore them, they are fantastic footballers, all of them. But there are details that we are missing because of all the success we have had in the past. People say that it has not been a success because we have not won the Champions Leagueand one shit. We have won a lot”, exploded Guardiola, who drew the path towards the clover (League, already won, fifth in England, third in a row, FA Cup, won last week over the Unitedalways United, and now pending the Champions League final with Inter).
And found Haaland
City was connected with Haaland (52 games, 52 goals) after a few months where they were not. Not even the ‘9’ to the team. Not even the team at ‘9’. He found a defensive strength that he did not have (the Madrid of Benzema and Vinicius only scored one goal in 180 minutes of the semifinals) and showed that the idea is untouchable, but it has more value when nuances such as direct play or galloping behind the rival defense are inoculated.
“So many clubs have destroyed projects and ideas because they weren’t able to win this competition, and so many have become great clubs because they were able to win it.”
Guardiola, City coach
Nothing has changed Pep, but everything has changed. Even he has changed. “With our club, I have learned that overexcitement is not good for us,” admitted the coach. Quieter walk in istanbul that in Porto two years ago where that goal by Havertz (m. 42) gave Chelsea the Champions League and caused him a pain that still endures today.
“So many clubs have destroyed projects and ideas because they weren’t able to win this competition, and so many have become great clubs because they were able to win it,” he recalled. Guardiolamore aware than anyone of what is at stake in the Turkish capital.
“Although I don’t share this opinion, I understand that everything we have done during all these years, which has been a lot and very good, will make sense for others if we win this competition. If we don’t win it, then things will seem “make less sense” It’s a little unfair, but we have to accept it. That’s the way things are”, the coach proclaimed, once again crossing the border of eternity.
“We must also accept that if we want to give a definitive step As a great club, we must win in Europe. We have to win the Champions League, it’s something that can’t be avoided”.