Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has addressed the media ahead of his side’s UEFA Super Cup clash against Europa League winners Sevilla on Wednesday night.
The La Liga giants are the opponents sandwiched between Premier League meetings against Burnley and Newcastle United, in what is expected to be a stern test of Pep Guardiola’s squad in Athens, Greece.
Manchester City booked their spot in the showpiece European meeting courtesy of their first ever Champions League success, after defeating Serie A giants Inter in Istanbul in early June thanks to a sumptuous lone strike from Rodri.
Their opponents this week had a somewhat more dramatic route to the final, defeating AS Roma to yet another Europa League triumph but courtesy of a penalty shoot-out win in Budapest, Hungary.
Manchester City come into the meeting in Athens high on confidence after their statement opening weekend victory against Burnley in the Premier League last Friday, courtesy of an Erling Haaland brace and Rodrigo close-range effort.
That victory however came at the cost of yet another Kevin De Bruyne injury, with the Belgian sustaining a problem on his hamstring just days after recovering from an identical issue suffered in the Champions League final.
The recovery timeframe of the Belgium international, possible replacements for De Bruyne in the transfer market, and other options in the existing squad were among the topics spoken about by Pep Guardiola during his press conference in Greece on Tuesday afternoon.
Here is every word from the boss at the Karaiskakis Stadium!
On Kevin De Bruyne’s injury
“We have to decide [whether to do] his surgery. [He] Will be a few months out. We will decide in the next days. Surgery is surgery, three or four months out.”
“The injury for Kevin is a blow, a big loss. He has specific qualities. For a long time is really tough for us. We have to look forward. We have alternatives. Kevin is irreplaceable, but we have talented players. They will take it.”
“Give me 25 days of preparation and will be easier. It’s 15 minutes. I spoke with physios and doctors and with him. Unfortunately.”
On whether Manchester City will sign a replacement for Kevin De Bruyne
“We will see. We’ll talk with Txiki [Begiristain] and the chances and possibilities.”
On whether Kevin De Bruyne will visit Dr Ramon Cugat in Barcelona
“He saw the images, saw them personally. Two or three doctors had the same opinion.”
On Rico Lewis’ contract renewal
“[He is] A player from [Manchester City’s] academy, to signing a five-year contract. A huge compliment to the academy; for the scouting, all the managers with him, [who] educated him. I was fortunate to know his parents, [he is] an incredible person. It’s incredible for the club, from the academy for a long time, for us is amazing.”
On whether James McAtee is an option to stand in for Kevin De Bruyne
On whether winning the Champions League takes pressure off Manchester City
“It’s a relief. To tell you that you can be seven years without winning the Champions League, it’s difficult to win. It’s not enough, otherwise we leave everyone at home because we have done it. We are hungry enough to compete, to challenge ourself. If someone wants to take our three crowns, they can fight us to take it.”
On whether Josko Gvardiol could make his full debut against Sevilla
“I was pleased for his debut at Burnley. Unfortunately he didn’t have much time to train together for the schedule. After the Newcastle game, we have eight games to train. Step by step. He’s here, he’s more than ready.”
On whether Phil Foden can play centrally
“He can play there and outside too. [Mateo] Kova can play there. We have a squad for finding a solution.”
“To be here in this conference to play tomorrow, the game, you have to win the Champions League or Europa League. It’s not easy. Maybe for Sevilla it is easier because they won a lot of Europa Leagues. They are a team when they play good they win. Their character and resilience.
“They have something that makes this club. I have the feeling it makes them more dangerous against us. You cannot imagine how happy we are to play this game because we have to win the Champions League. We have to take this opportunity, who knows when we are back.”
On being reunited with Jesus Navas
“Maybe now I’d have extended Jesus’ contract. It was an old team in that period [at Manchester City], lots of players past 30. In that year a lot of changes. Incredible to see him at 37, 38, how committed he is to Sevilla.”
On whether Sergio Ramos could join Sevilla
“It’s a tough question to answer. Ramos’ career is extraordinary. Going home to close the circle is a great end to the career.”
On who is the favourites in Manchester City vs Sevilla
“As for analysing the favourites, it’s too early with one game in our legs. With Barcelona we had 25 days until our first official game after the Champions League, we had four or five days to train, times have changed. You never know.
“Maybe Sevilla has good chances but people don’t have enough rest physically or mentally these days. The schedule forces you to play important games against tough rivals. It’s a pity we didn’t have the 25 days rest.
“I have a feeling, excuse my arrogance, that City are favourites. We have a quality, but of course we know there are no favourites. I saw the second leg of Sevilla vs United at home, United were weak, Sevilla can be a strong team.”
On the importance of the Super Cup
“You have to win the Champions League or Europa League to be here. Hopefully we come back but maybe not. To win in Europe, in December when we go for the Club World Cup. We’re happy, relaxed, what an honour to play this competition.”
On Stefan Ortega transfer links to Bayern Munich
“It will be a problem. First, for his quality. He’s played in the Bundesliga, I saw him and said what a keeper we have. We don’t want to sell him, but like many cases, [it depends] on three parties. If Stefan has two weeks out of the market, we have to pick up a keeper, it’s not easy. We want him for years and years.”
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