Men's Team

Every game is a final: Gundogan’s pre-Leipzig message

Every game is a final: Gundogan’s pre-Leipzig message
Ilkay Gundogan says each of Manchester City’s fixtures between now and the end of the season are ‘like a final’ ahead of RB Leipzig’s UEFA Champions League last-16 visit.

Pep Guardiola’s men go into Tuesday’s 20:00 (UK) tie at the Etihad Stadium on the back of four successive victories in all competitions.

Indeed, as the final furlongs of the campaign approach, City find ourselves in the midst of a thrilling Premier League title race with Arsenal, while an FA Cup quarter-final with Burnley also beckons.

However, we must first get the better of Die Roten Bullen, with the current aggregate score at 1-1 ahead of the second leg.

And for Gundogan, each of City’s encounters could prove significant in our overall success across 2022/23, regardless of the competition or opponent.


“At this point [of the season] not many anymore to be honest,” the midfielder explained when asked for the differences in approach between league and cup fixtures.

“It may be different at the beginning of the season when you’ve played less games [but] now, especially in the league I think every game feels like a knockout game, like a final.

“That’s the same now for the remainder of the FA Cup and the Champions League.

“Every game is going to be like a final and that’s how we have to play those types of games as well.”

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Riyad Mahrez handed City the lead just before the 30-minute mark against RB Leipzig in the first leg of our Round of 16 showdown, but the hosts would reply through Josko Gvardiol to leave the tie finely poised.

And while the skipper believes there were areas to work on from our previous encounter, he also feels that claiming a draw was, ultimately, a positive result for Pep Guardiola’s men.

He said: “We played a very good first half, a good first 45 minutes and created good chances. [But] we had a period in the second half where we were not good enough.


“We lost easy balls and didn’t win enough duels and conceded unfortunately. We should have maybe won that game, but it’s the Champions League and it’s difficult.

“All the teams have quality, and they are able to score goals. Still, I believe a draw away is not a bad result. We feel very strong at home, and on a good day we are able to beat everyone.

“Of course, that’s the target for the second leg.”

While Gundogan stressed that there was a long way to go before there could be any talk of silverware on either a domestic or European front, he conceded that it’s certainly a target.

The midfielder insists fighting on multiple fronts at the business end of the campaign is a privilege which is becoming increasing difficult given the quality of our opponents.

However, the skipper explains it’s simply part and parcel of wanting to be successful and a responsibility he and his team-mates continue to work tirelessly towards.

“It’s what it’s about. Staying in the competitions as long as possible and we try to have the chance to win again, every single season,” he said.

“I think as a squad we have the responsibility to be the best possible version of ourselves, every single season. We have done that in recent years.

“Now we are there again. Of course, we were out of the Carabao Cup, maybe for our qualities, too early.

“The other ones have quality and it’s just getting year-by-year more difficult to remain in every single competition as long as possible.

“But we are there again and in three different competitions and of course we want to be there until the final day.”