Sport We'll take the plane or bus - Guardiola relaxed as Istanbul Champions League final is placed in flux
Guardiola and Man City dreaming of Champions League final after making history
Pep Guardiola fronted the media following Manchester City's win at Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.Last season's runners-up PSG looked on track to clinch a semi-final first-leg advantage over City thanks to Marquinhos' 15th-minute header before the English visitors produced a second-half comeback.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is unconcerned over where the Champions League final will take place amid fresh doubts over whether the showpiece will take place in Istanbul.
City beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 in midweek to close out a 4-1 aggregate triumph and book their place in a maiden Champions League final.
Chelsea ensured it would be an all-English affair as they overcame Real Madrid by the same scoreline on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge to prevail 3-1 on aggregate.
The make-up of the final already led to speculation over whether the match might be moved, given Turkey is currently under lockdown due to spiking COVID-19 rates as the UK loosens restrictions thanks in part to a successful vaccine roll out.
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Not content with shaping Turkey's history, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is about to change its geography, too, by building an alternative to the Bosphorus, raising hackles at home and alarm in Russia. Critics accuse Erdogan of pursuing a vanity project that will open up Istanbul to unbridled construction and put the government into deep and largely unnecessary debt. Environmentalists hate it, as does the Kremlin, which fears that Erdogan'sCritics accuse Erdogan of pursuing a vanity project that will open up Istanbul to unbridled construction and put the government into deep and largely unnecessary debt.
UEFA insisted it was committed to the game remaining at the Ataturk Stadium but the situation became more complicated on Friday when the UK government added Turkey to its travel "red list".
That means anyone travelling to the country – including fans, players and staff from both clubs – must quarantine for 10 days in government-approved hotels upon their return to the UK.
Unless exemptions can be secured for players, this would be particularly problematic given Euro 2020 and the 2021 Copa America start on June 11, 13 days after the Champions League final.
The change in status is effective from May 17, the same day Turkey's own national lockdown is set to end, and will not be reviewed for three weeks, meaning there is no prospect of a change in the UK government stance before the final.
Our lives have changed completely – Guardiola hails 'extraordinary' season with Man City on brink of title
Manchester City could be crowned Premier League champions by Sunday but Pep Guardiola already thinks their season has been "extraordinary".On April 14, Manchester City progressed to the Champions League semi-finals for the first time under Guardiola's management.
Video: Pep Guardiola salutes ‘incredible’ players after reaching Champions League final (Evening Standard)
UEFA is in discussions with the Football Association (FA) over the next steps, with Villa Park touted as a potential alternative venue as Wembley is slated to host the Championship play-off final on May 29.
"I'm pretty sure UEFA will decide the best for everyone," Guardiola said, speaking prior to the UK government decision.
"If we go to Istanbul, it will be a pleasure. I think the situation depends on the pandemic there but if they decide to move on or stay here in this country or another place, we'll take the plane or the bus and we will be there."
Stats Perform News understands City will await further guidance from UEFA over the Champions League final venue and will not lobby for the game to be moved to a stadium on home soil.
City host Chelsea on Saturday in a dress rehearsal for the final, knowing victory at the Etihad Stadium will secure a third Premier League crown in four seasons with three games to spare.
Pep warns City CAN'T maintain levels from second half against PSG
City hold a 2-1 lead after an impressive performance and result in Paris last week as Guardiola's side look to reach the Champions League final for the first time. The runaway Premier League leaders came from behind last week at the Parc des Princes after a stunning display in the second-half - but Guardiola warns it isn't possible to maintain that level over 90 minutes and his side must adapt at times on Tuesday night. 'Emotions means you can't predict a game, but it can be completely different to what you expect,' Guardiola said, at his pre-match press conference on Monday.
However, Guardiola insists that would not be a cue to rest the players who have established themselves as a settled first XI in European matches.
The Catalan's often-repeated mantra of players needing to be in "rhythm" will not be allowed to slide with a defining night on the horizon.
"I want to be honest, the players will not be rested to think about the Champions League final," Guardiola said.
"Now we have a period of six days [between] Chelsea [and the trip to] Newcastle, so now the schedule is a little bit more fresh.
"Now it's time to try to… it's in our hands and we don't depend on other results to win the Premier League as quickly as possible. It won't be easy because of the opponent we have.
"It's not necessary to tell them to be focused on the last game of the season because nobody in the club has been there before apart from Ilkay [Gundogan], who played in the [2013 Champions League] final. The rest, everyone will be so focused to arrive in this final in the best condition possible."
After their trip to St James' Park, City face Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium on May 18 before rounding out their Premier League campaign at home to Everton on May 23.
Guardiola's deal and Dias... How City have claimed back their crown .
SPECIAL REPORT: It is easy to forget now - given they will clinch this prize at such a canter - that Guardiola's future was uncertain right up until signing his two-year extension in November.A senior club employee was meeting staff, talking through goals and objectives and how best to engage with supporters and ultimately enhance the City brand. These are the sort of business conversations that take place at every Premier League outfit.