Guardiola on beating Madrid: "I will always be a Barcelona supporter"

Ahead of the Man City-Real Madrid clash on Friday, Pep Guardiola spoke to the media about beating Los Blancos, Ramos' absence and the threat posed by Hazard and Benzema.

Preview: “It was a long time ago we played the first leg. We knew it after the game we would have another here at home. It is without our people but we will try to do a good game.”

“We will be happy for us to go through but beating this kind of team would be a big confidence boost for us. We know we want to win the Champions League so we can only focus on one game. It is important to win tomorrow. We are focused and the confidence of the team is to get this goal because it is so important for the club. It is a dream for everyone, for me. Tomorrow we have this amazing match that is a final for us but we have the confidence that it is a long tournament."

Playing without fans: “I think all professionals, not just the manager, miss spectators. That is the reality but we have already adapted a little bit. Hopefully it depends on the health if we are going to play with fans but when it is going to happen it needs to be secure for everyone. We want kids to go to school as soon as possible, that is more important than people coming back to stadiums.”

Conceding goals: “More than concede the goals is the way we concede. If they are brilliant we have to accept but most of them we could have avoided and we have to avoid making mistakes. This competition punishes you a lot. We know it, we have spoken about that the last years and we know it. If we want to make a step forward as a team to be close to winning this competition we have to be better in this area.”

Is beating Madrid special because of the Barcelona connection?: “No, not especially. The fact we play against Real Madrid or not, I will always be a Barcelona supporter. It is the club where I grew up and gave me part of who I am but when I was with Bayern and played against Real Madrid or Barcelona I wanted to beat them. Nothing special. I want it for our players and our club to go to the next step, I don’t lose concentration on this kind of thing because I focus on what we have to do as a team to beat Real Madrid.”

Situation with Eric GarcĂ­a: “He announced to us that he doesn’t want to extend his contract with MC. He has one more year and after that, he doesn’t want to extend. We want it but he doesn’t want to extend it so I imagine he wants to play in other places.”

Guardiola on Benzema, Hazard, Ramos and Zidane

Karim Benzema: “He’s a fantastic player, I have been aware since he was a young lad at Lyon and he’s a great player but since my time at Barcelona there have been 20 players that have come on the scene and people have asked if we can compare with Messi. 20 players.” Eden Hazard: “We want to play against opponents that have their best players on the field. You don’t need me ot tell you Hazard is one of the best in the world and he can turn a game and influence a result. It’s down to Zidane to decide whether to risk him if he isn’t fully fit but we’re aware of the dangers he can bring and we will be ready for him if he does play.”

Absence of Sergio Ramos: “We knew that Ramos was going to be out from the minute the game finished at the Bernabeu. Of course he is key to them and he has been a great player throughout his career but as I just said now we are focusing more on what we can do to influence and win the game than who might or might not be playing for Madrid.”

Zidane’s approach to the game: “It’s difficult to know when you think that you’ve got one of his tactical plans covered he’ll hit you with another or revert. It is already very difficult to analyse tactics. In the dim and distant past we played the first leg and what we can remember from that we will put to good use. Since then, we’ve watched all Madrid’s games since La Liga restarted so we’ve spoken about how we think Madrid might approach this game but what we have done more is speak as a squad about how we can hurt Madrid and cause problems for them. That is what we’ve been focusing on in the buildup to this game.”

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