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Gündogan Discusses Barcelona’s Champions League Progress

Ilkay Gundogan / Getty Images
Ilkay Gundogan / Getty Images

Gündogan reflects on Barcelona’s Champions League progress and the challenges facing the team.

İlkay Gündogan has given an interview to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, where he discussed Barcelona’s qualification for the Champions League quarterfinals, his current situation, and the project’s state. He also talked about why he ended up signing for Barcelona after leaving Manchester City, where he crossed paths with the coach he idolized while watching his time at Camp Nou on TV. In fact, Ilkay was close to joining Bayern to be part of Guardiola’s project: “There was indeed interest and a meeting between representatives of FC Bayern and my team. However, I had no personal conversation with Pep Guardiola at that time, so I never knew his idea was for me to be his Xavi or Iniesta at Bayern.

But a Thiago-Gündogan duo would certainly have been fun,” he acknowledges. Gündogan recalls how he fell in love with Barcelona, precisely with midfielders like those Guardiola’s team had: “I was fascinated by that Barcelona team with the trio of Xavi, Busquets, and Iniesta. Before that, Ronaldinho too, of course, but for me, it was the most attractive football there was, and honestly, I’ve never seen anything better. That kind of short-passing game, the effectiveness of simple football, that characterized me as a young player and also influenced my game. And that’s why I’ve always liked Barcelona over the years.” He is clear that “you can’t compare today’s Barcelona with the Barcelona of the past. We are in a period of changes, with Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, the team lost its routine and identity last summer. Now I’m here to bring a balance between the experience and potential brought by the great talents from La Masia,” he argues.

Regarding the season, he adds, “We had bad luck with injuries; otherwise, I would have had a break, which would have been good for me. As a team, we are still not at the stage where we can control the game as much as we would like. That’s why, as against Napoli, sometimes it goes back and forth like in basketball, and it becomes very intense and difficult.”