Shocking headline alert: Pep Guardiola is “incredibly proud” of everyone connected to Manchester City after the club reached the UEFA Champions League final on Tuesday.
Perhaps speaking from personal experience, Guardiola lamented the fact that “People believe it’s easy to arrive in the final of the Champions League,” which is patently untrue and makes the achievement all the sweeter — quotes from the BBC:
“It is for all of us and the club. I’m incredibly proud and my first thoughts are with the players who didn’t play today. They all deserved to play, everyone has made a contribution and now it is time to enjoy it. We have to win the league and we have two or three weeks to prepare for the final.
“They put a lot of players in the middle and we struggled a lot in the first half to high press, and we changed at halftime. We recovered the ball better in the second half and we were much better in the way we played, and 4-1 on aggregate against a team that beat Barcelona and Bayern Munich — it means a lot to us.
“They win the league every year, they are a team built to win, they fought to the end. They are a huge team, but we were so, so composed. We fought together and we’re in the final of the Champions League and those are nice words.
“People believe it’s easy to arrive in the final of the Champions League. Getting to the final now makes sense of what we have done in the past four or five years. Every day these guys have been consistent and this is remarkable. We scored a goal through the hips in the first game, and today Marquinhos hit the bar in the first half — you can be out for little details.
“United won a title because of John Terry’s slip and Real won a title against Atletico Madrid in the 93 minute. It’s a competition that is so difficult and something in the stars is involved in that.”
On some level, Guardiola must also be relieved as well, knowing he’s headed back to the Champions League final for the first time since 2011. No longer can pundits claim that his entire managerial career was merely a byproduct of having been graced by arguably the greatest club side of all time — the 2008-2011 era of Barcelona, which won back-to-back-to-back La Liga titles, a singular Copa del Rey and a pair of Champions League trophies. Three seasons, six major trophies.
Finally, after seven seasons away from Catalonia and seven failures in or before the semifinals, Guardiola is a Champions League finalist once again.