Pep Guardiola is full of praise for Simone Inzaghi, Andre Onana and ‘great team’ Inter, admitting the Champions League Final was as tight as ‘a coin toss, it could’ve gone to extra time.’
While some were predicting a 5-0 victory for the Citizens, that was never the version of events put forward by Guardiola and this evening at the Ataturk Stadium proved precisely why.
He knew full well that Inzaghi’s side would cause problems for them, as eventually only a Rodri goal squeaked the Final, as Federico Dimarco hit the crossbar and Ederson made two desperate saves on Romelu Lukaku and Robin Gosens.
“Congratulations to Inter, what a great team,” Guardiola told Sport Mediaset.
“I say that as the winner, I would’ve said if I had lost too. They absolutely deserved to be here and we knew it would be a very tough match. This competition, it’s like a coin toss, that’s how tight it is. We could easily have been held 1-1 and gone to extra time.
“It felt like this season it was in the stars, we had to win the Champions League for the first time in this club’s history.”
Guardiola was full of praise for Inter and their way of playing out from the back with Onana, who at times seemed more like a sweeper than a goalkeeper this evening.
“This is exactly how I expected Inter. When you have a goalkeeper like Onana who can read perfectly where everyone is to pass to, with Calhanoglu and Barella, then the strikers hold it up and move the ball around. It is very, very difficult. It would be a tiny bit easier without this goalkeeper, but still very tough. They are physically strong too.
“The Italian teams reached three European Finals this season and that is definitely not a fluke.”
Guardiola, who speaks excellent Italian thanks to his time in Serie A playing for Brescia and Roma, was asked if he had any advice for Inzaghi.
“I just want to say that he is feeling what we felt two years ago and he must realise he has the second best team in Europe. When you have the second best team in Europe, that is of an extremely high level. He will be back here. This is sport, someone has to lose and someone has to win.”
Although Guardiola had already won the Champions League at Barcelona 12 years ago, he failed with Bayern Munich and until now with Manchester City, but he shrugs off suggestions this night will silence his critics.
“Does it change anything? Am I wiser? Am I a better coach? What happens if Ederson doesn’t make that save? You can say what you like, but the important thing is to be there. We don’t want to win the Champions League and then disappear. You have to be up there all the time for seven or eight years. It was our turn, just like it could’ve been our turn two years ago.
“If we didn’t win the Champions League before, it’s because the opponents are very strong. If people think we will be any different now we’ve won the Champions League, they are wrong.”