Pep Guardiola plays down Champions League final nerves

Manchester City v Aston Villa – Premier League – Etihad Stadium
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admits he will have to calm some nerves ahead of the Champions League final but is more concerned about having to disappoint players who do not make the starting line-up.

City are playing in their first final in Europe’s elite club competition and while Guardiola’s squad are Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup winners – multiple times – the Spaniard knows the magnitude of the occasion may affect some.

“I know exactly the way we want to play, with who we’re going to play and I’m not going to bother them much,” he said.

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“It’s an incredible experience to be here. I know exactly what I’m going to tell them. The guys who are anxious and nervous, I will tell them that’s normal.

“Some players will go out there with tension, some may struggle, but they have to handle this.

“I’m pretty sure we have to suffer to win the final. It’s nice to say enjoy it but sometimes it’s not possible.

“You have to be resilient and adjust. We will try to be ourselves and do what we can.”

While Guardiola has his game-plan in place and knows exactly what to tell his team, finding the words for those who only make the bench will be tougher.

“Terrible. It’s absolutely (a) disaster. I advise you, don’t be a manager in your life,” he added.

“I don’t have any nice words to feel relief about the guys who won’t play, but my advice is to stick with the team. There are five or six substitutions and everybody has a chance.”

One player who is certain to start and is relishing the occasion is playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, who believes City have learned their lesson from previous failures to reach the final.

“It’s been one of the goals of the club and one of the goals of the players. To be able to be there and play on the highest stage is a privilege,” said the Belgium international.

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“The identity of the team is the same but I think in the difficult moments we didn’t make too many mistakes.

“In the other years, in these types of games, we made one mistake too many and the other teams reacted to it by going ahead and we couldn’t get back.

“In games this year we didn’t concede the goals that we have done in previous years.”

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