Pep Guardiola said his Manchester City players will have to “suffer” to win Saturday’s Champions League final against Chelsea in Porto as they attempt to lift the European Cup for the first time in the club’s history.
City, whose only European trophy remains the 1970 European Cup-Winners’ Cup, are making their first-ever Champions League final appearance against Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea in Estadio do Dragao.
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Manager Guardiola is attempting to win his third Champions League, however, after guiding Barcelona to glory in 2009 and 2011 — beating Manchester United on both occasions in the final — and the former Bayern Munich coach admits that his previous experience of the final has taught him that his team will have to earn any victory they achieve.
“I am pretty sure we will have to suffer to win the final,” Guardiola said in a prematch news conference in Porto. “In most of the time in finals, you have to suffer. You have to adjust to the bad moments, but you have to be yourself.
“Tomorrow we’ll have momentum, but it won’t be 90 minutes for one side. We’ll stick together and try to use it.
“Everyone wants to win, but you have to play, sometimes you have to play one way and have to adapt to circumstances.
“Some players go out and have more pressure and tension. Better players can struggle, but you have to handle it. The guys who can suffer, will suffer. We’ll have to suffer to win.”
Guardiola was hired by City in 2016 with the club’s Abu Dhabi owners making clear that the Spaniard was expected to build the team into Europe’s dominant force.
And Guardiola says that reaching the final against Chelsea is the culmination of the work the club has done since he arrived from Bayern five years ago.
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“To achieve the final of the Champions League is like finishing a part of the process that started four or five years ago,” Guardiola said.
“They [owners] give the manager everything he needs investment, I cannot deny it, but not just that.
“I have friends above me, the players have the feeling that I’m the manager as I’ve been supported by chairman, CEO and sporting director.
“I feel comfortable with my staff, backroom, staff, I have everything. I cannot ask for more to do my job. It’s simple.
“We share the mistakes and good things all together and this is the point. When we lose, they do not say I’m responsible, they try to find the solution what we can do better. That’s this club.
“I’m incredibly comfortable with the whole club. That’s why I decided to stay longer. Results will say if I stay longer and longer — we’ll shake hands and stay friends.”
Guardiola has yet to name his team for Saturday, but high-profile players such as Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Aymeric Laporte and Kyle Walker are all in danger of missing out on a place in the starting XI.
And he admits that telling players they are not playing in big games is the toughest part of his job.
“Terrible,” he said. “It’s an absolute disaster. Don’t be a manager in your life! I don’t have any nice words to feel relief about the guys you’ve said, but my advice is stay with the team as there are five or six subs and life gives you another chance.
“Work harder and maybe next time you’ll be there. I feel incredibly sorry for them, but I have to be honest, I know them and I make a selection to win the game, no alternative.”
Chelsea, meanwhile, were handed a major boost in their preparations after N’Golo Kante and Edouard Mendy took part in the team’s final training session at the Estadio do Dragao.
Kante had been a doubt with a hamstring problem while Mendy sustained some bruising after being forced off at half-time of Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day of the Premier League season last weekend.
Tuchel has masterminded two victories over City in the past six weeks — an FA Cup semifinal success and a League win at the Etihad Stadium — and he believes those results can inspire his team to their second Champions League crown, nine years after their first.
“We are very well aware that Man City is the benchmark — this team and this manager over the last few years — but we are very well aware that in football, you are always able to close the gap,” he said.
“We closed the gap twice and this is the challenge tomorrow. How did we close the gap? We were courageous, we were brave, we were suffering together. We were strong as team, with strong belief, strong quality and we did show up in every single minute. This is pretty much it. We need to break it down into behaviour and little details and this is what we do with the team.
“We feel absolutely the hunger that we are happy but not overexcited to be here. We want to be overexcited after the match. We are here to win the trophy. Maybe as the slight underdogs but this does not change anything and we want to leave Porto with the trophy.”