Pep Guardiola is “incredibly proud” of reaching the Champions League final, but quickly turned his focus to the other Manchester City players who have served him well for the past five years.
City won 2-0 at home against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday with a brace from Riyad Mahrez to achieve an overall success of 4-1 in the semi-finals.
Premier League leaders City will appear in the final for the first time in their history and take over Chelsea or Real Madrid.
PSG’s defeat ends a long wait including repeated heartbeats in the knockout stages of the competition, leading Guardiola to believe that the only difference this season was the fortune on City’s side.
That meant he again reflected on past pain and how “unfair” it is for some notable city names to be missed.
Modern greats Vincent Kompany and David Silva both played key roles under Guardiola, but left ahead of this season’s European race.
“People think it’s easy to get into the Champions League [final], ”City manager told BT Sport. “People think that because it happened earlier, I have to arrive every year in the final of the Champions League.
“Unfortunately, it now makes sense to get the final in the Champions League, what we have done the last four years or five years with many people.
“This is a little unfair. Every day these guys are consistent, these guys have shown the last five years in every competition. This is remarkable.
We came to Istanbul eventually, boys!
– Manchester City (@ManCity) May 4, 2021
“I said before, this competition is like this: we won the first game because we shoot between the opponent’s hips.
“Today was the post for Marquinhos, and maybe the penalty will be given, even when it’s obviously not a penalty and you’re after these little details.
“United won a Champions League because Terry is smooth, you know that? United won at the last minute at the Camp Nou against Bayern Munich, this competition.
“Madrid won against Atletico Madrid in 93 minutes. It is a competition that is so difficult. There’s something the stars are involved in.
“But we won 11 matches in this competition, just a draw with Porto. We made an incredible Champions League and we have three weeks to prepare for the final. ”
City have won their last seven Champions League matches – the longest victory ever by an English team in European Cup / Champions League history. In fact, City are also the first English side to win 11 matches in a single European Cup / Champions League campaign.
Kompany and some of his other teammates were not the only City stars unable to make significant contributions on Tuesday, with record goal scorer Sergio Aguero only a replacement along with Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus.
Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo and Rodri – crucial in the last two seasons – were not even called off the bench.
“I’m incredibly proud,” Guardiola said. “But my first thought is always for the players who did not play today.
“I know for them that it is so hard that they deserve to play, but everyone makes their contribution this Champions League season.
“Now is the time to enjoy it. We have a step towards the Premier League and then two or three weeks to prepare for the final. ”
7 – Manchester City have won their last seven UEFA Champions League matches; the longest ever winning race by an English team in European Cup / Champions League history. Historic. pic.twitter.com/zpfRj8kLjC
– OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 4, 2021
PSG finished with 10 men after Angel Di Maria kicked out at Fernandinho, while mood flared and further red cards could have followed.
Guardiola – who finished a race of four consecutive Champions League eliminations and reached the final for the first time since 2010-11 with Barcelona – said: “They are huge competitors. It was the team that was number two last season, in the French league, they win every year. It’s a team built to stay there.
“The mentality, everyone is a huge competitor. They fought until the end – [Marco] Verratti is a great example, [Leandro] Paredes, Neymar, all of them, a big, big team.
“But we were so, so complex. We suffered together, defended inside so well, and we did. We are in the final of the Champions League, those are good words. ”