MANCHESTER, England — Pep Guardiola has used Michael Jordan and Jack Nicklaus to defend his failure to guide Manchester City to victory in the Champions League by saying that even the world’s greatest sportsmen lose more than they win.
Guardiola has won the Champions League twice, both while manager of Barcelona in 2009 and 2011.
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He hasn’t lifted the trophy since despite spells at Bayern Munich, his quarterfinal opponents this season, and City, but Guardiola said he should not be defined by his defeats because both Jordan, who won six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls, and Nicklaus, who won a record 18 major golf championships, are only remembered for their successes.
“Yesterday, it was the Masters,” Guardiola told a news conference on Monday. “How many Masters has Jack Nicklaus played or how many majors has he played in his career? In 30 or 40 years as a golfer? In 30 or 40 years as a golfer of four majors [a year], like in the Champions League. How many wins? 18 wins. Wow. He loses more than he wins. That is sport.
“In football, in golf, in basketball; Michael Jordan, the best athlete for me in basketball, won six NBA titles out of 15 [seasons]. He loses more than he wins. This game, all games, are so difficult.”
City face Bayern in the first leg of their quarterfinal at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday; a tie that pits Guardiola against Thomas Tuchel, the manager who led Chelsea to victory over City in the 2021 Champions League final.
Tuchel has only been in charge of Bayern for a matter of weeks after the German side announced the surprise sacking of Julian Nagelsmann on March 24 but Guardiola said he has already put his stamp on the team.
“We saw three games that Thomas Tuchel’s Bayern played and maybe they will do something new,” Guardiola added. “It would have been difficult with Nagelsmann and will be difficult with Tuchel.
“He is so creative. He went to Paris [Saint-Germain] and did really well, not just winning the French league or arriving in the Champions League final, but the way they played was really good and he did a good job at Chelsea.
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“I was sad [to lose the 2021 final] but I congratulated him and Chelsea for the victory. It happened. I reviewed the game a month later. It was not as bad as I thought but at the same time it was not at all a good enough performance to win it. It was a tight, tight game like they always have been against Chelsea in that period. Forget it and try again.”
Meanwhile, City and Guardiola will come up against a familiar face on Tuesday night after full-back Joao Cancelo was named in Bayern’s squad to travel to Manchester. Cancelo moved to Munich on loan in January and has remained close friends with Portugal teammates Ruben Dias and Bernardo Silva.
“I must confess it will be strange,” Dias told a news conference.
“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 and it is football.
“We built a close relationship, especially me, him and Bernardo, and we are always in touch so we are in contact but when the game starts each one of us will be on his own side.”