Pep Guardiola is relishing the chance to pit his wits against Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel as the Manchester City boss looks to avenge his team’s 2021 Champions League final defeat at the German’s hands.
City host Bayern in the Champions League quarter-final first leg on Tuesday as Guardiola continues his quest to lead the team to their first title in Europe’s elite club competition.
It will be an intriguing tactical battle between two of the world’s top managers, with Guardiola coming face to face with Tuchel two years after the German won their Champions League final showdown.
Tuchel was in charge of Chelsea when they beat City 1-0 in the final in Porto two years ago.
Guardiola was accused of over-thinking his team selection for the final against Chelsea, who also beat City in the FA Cup and the Premier League during Tuchel’s reign.
With Tuchel having recently taken charge of Bayern after being sacked by Chelsea in September, Guardiola has a chance for revenge over the two-legged tie.
“I was sad but I congratulated him and Chelsea for the victory. It happened,” Guardiola told reporters on Monday.
“We try again. Defeats and victories stick at the same level. It is forgotten just the same. I don’t pay attention to what happened in the past. It’s part of the game.
“I reviewed the game a month ago and it was not as bad as I thought. It was a tight game, like they always have been against Chelsea in this period.”
On locking horns with Tuchel, Guardiola added: “I try to figure out the quality they have in all departments. It would have been difficult with Julian Nagelsmann and also will be difficult against Tuchel.
“I don’t pay that much attention, more attention on what I do with my team.”
Guardiola knows all about Bayern’s enduring quality after spending three seasons in charge of the Munich club from 2013 to 2016, a spell that included three Bundesliga titles.
But just as he been unable to produce a Champions League triumph with City, he also failed to win the competition at Bayern.
– ‘It will be strange’ –
The 52-year-old’s two Champions League victories as a manager both came with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011, and he is well aware how hard it will be to end that long barren run this season.
“We want to try. It’s an honour to be here against an elite club like Bayern and I’m happy to be here,” Guardiola said.
“It’s not taken for granted. You have to deserve it by playing good. When I was appointed and came seven years ago people ask me this every season. I understand.
“We’ve tried every single season but there are teams that you face that are also good and want to win.”
If City are to end their wait for European glory, they will need Erling Haaland to maintain his incredible goalscoring form.
The Norway striker has reached 30 Premier League goals this season and has 44 in all competitions.
“He is important for us, I cannot deny. He came to help us to be here in the Champions League, to win that, but as well as the FA Cup and the Premier League as well,” Guardiola said.
“It is important to have a player who from nothing can score a goal, but we have scored many goals in this competition in the past and gone out. Maybe the problem was that we were not solid enough to defend.”
City will come up against a familiar face in Bayern’s Portuguese international full-back Joao Cancelo, who surprisingly joined the Germans on loan in January and is eligible to play in the tie.
City defender Ruben Dias, a good friend of his fellow Portugal international, said: “I must confess it will be strange.
“Not very long ago we were fighting together but it is what it is, it is football, it is the life we lead. Decisions have been made.”