Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has responded to questions about his team’s ‘mentality’ following their brutal Champions League defeat on Wednesday.
Guardiola’s men had a narrow advantage over Real Madrid going into the semi-final second leg after a 4-3 victory at home. They scored again at the Bernabeu to put themselves in pole position to reach a second UCL final in a row.
But two late goals from Real Madrid substitute Rodrygo sent the tie into extra time. Los Blancos talisman Karim Benzema then stepped up to score a penalty in the 95th minute, breaking Manchester City hearts.
The Citizens must now dust themselves down and prepare for the remainder of the Premier League season.
But the defeat to Real is another huge setback on Guardiola’s journey to win Europe’s elite club competition with Manchester City.
Ahead of their match against Newcastle on Sunday, Guardiola was asked if Rodrygo’s second goal was down to a ‘mentality’ issue among City players after the first.
He replied (via Manchester Evening News): “There is no time for mental, they scored 45 seconds later. There’s no time to settle down.
“All the analysis – how do you control that? The emotion of the players, tell me how they feel that in that moment.
‘It happens’ – Pep Guardiola reacts to defeat
“We don’t think they want to lose, they want to accept the crowd, score the second one. It’s football. It happens.
“We have to accept it, we tell them they have to score goals all the time. Now people say lack of character. Lack of character? What happens if Jack Grealish scores the two goals?”
On the wider issue of their Champions League exit, he continued: “I’m not saying it is a failure or not. People say if this group of players won’t win the UCL they will be failures.
“I completely disagree but I accept it, I’m not going to make a debate about who is right or wrong.”
Guardiola then revealed, perhaps surprisingly, that he is yet to talk with the players about the loss.
“We didn’t speak. No words can help for what all of us feel,” he added. “It is just a question of time, sleep as well as possible and think of the next target.
“Tomorrow will be the first day we are together and we are going to talk about who we are as a team.”