"I want to make it to Qatar and keep making Premier League history"
In an interview that lasted over an hour and a half for Argentine cable network TyC Sports, Sergio talked about many topics – the quarantine, the national team, modern football, and his own future. He mused on his goals and motivations, declaring: "I want to keep making Premier League history."
These were some of the main topics covered in the interview:
"Keep making Premier League history"
“I had to endure 5 years with an oedema on my knee, a sportsman's hernia, an injury in my adductors. If you think I won't make it to Qatar, think again! It's right around the corner – not sure what's going to happen. The 2018 World Cup seems like it was yesterday. When the new World Cup is coming up, all you want is to be in shape and take part of it. My goal is to keep going until the end, and take great care of myself. At my age, I want to continue making history in the Premier League, and keep growing as a professional."
On British football:
Today, football's gotten very physical. In the Premier League, there's not that much play, it's all about physical condition. The top three contenders try to play, and the rest don't, much less so against Manchester City. The same happens at a national level with the Argentinian team – we are all cracking players, but a run-of-the-mill team with good running and physical form and suddenly the game can take a turn."
"With my height, I try to avoid getting too close to the midfielders, I stay away from the tall players. I try to find other openings. With the national team, I know Leo can cross the ball to the first post or to the penalty area – and he hits them quite hard. During the game against Uruguay, in Israel, I saw everybody clumping in the middle, so I moved forward to anticipate the shot and took a leap."
"Football has changed quite a bit. Nowadays, you can take a killer shot near the goal, and some goalies with quick reflexes can parry those attempts. The Premier League got me used to not thinking when I'm in the box. I'll make a touch or two, a twist, and then I take the shot. Outside the box, maybe I'll go for a pass or a give and go – but inside the box, my mind is blank, I shoot high and hard to negate the goalie's reaction."
"I've scored plenty of times like that. I want to make a cross but I hit the ball so strongly with my instep that it flies to the first post. Once, playing against Liverpool, I made a left-foot goal that broke past the first post. It was a beautiful shot, but I was actually trying to cross it. Messages poured in to congratulate me – but Roman Riquelme did text me saying 'you lucky sod!' He had figured it all out."
"I play on the razor edge of the offside, that's a tricky one. I know how the team moves and how the ball will transit through the squad, so I stick with that motion. I try to avoid having the midfielders play up. I stay off-side so they hesitate – even if it's odd for me to stay in that spot, it keeps them from moving forwards. Then, near the box, I look out to get an edge over them, that's my talent. Luckily, I've got brilliant people assisting me and when a defender takes a false step, I find the opening, I get the pass. I know that when De Bruyne's got the ball, I need to stay on top of the defender – Kevin's going to shoot a lightning pass past everyone, so I've got to overtake everyone or miss the chance. It's a tricky thing, and you can rarely see that work on TV."
The Age of Coronavirus
"On May 4th, Man City is undergoing an inspection due to COVID. Then, we'll start training in separate groups. I think the rest of the leagues, around the world, will start again. It's a mess, everything's delayed and Copa America was suspended too. In the end, I prefer to wait for this to blow over even if it means staying isolated for longer."
“What I remember of that game is that we had to win it, no two ways about it. We were on edge, just wanting to wrap it up and celebrate. But we had a terrible time just up until the last few minutes. I was having a sorry match, I was barely there, and the clock was ticking down in a hurry. When Dzeko equalised it, I told myself "it's all or nothing", so I dipped down a bit to make a quick pass to Balotelli. I was looking to seek him out, having him hold the ball a bit, and then pass it back so I could take the shot. When I get back the ball, I clear my marker and return it to Mario, he holds it and gives me a low pass. The ball wasn't comfortable for me to shoot on the spot. After setting it up, the midfielder sets down to tackle me and I was looking out to make it a penalty. But the tackle was not hard enough to make me lose balance, I realised I had control of a ball that was just near the goal – so I said 'I'm kicking it'. The worst part was... I tried to make it a cross shot and it ended up going near the first post, not sure what happened there. Afterwards, watching the play, I realised that a cross shot could have been deflected by the defender that dove down. I celebrated the goal and all, and said to myself 'man, did I take a great shot!'
The Balon d'Or:
“I consider that I'm among the top strikers in the world – not because I say so, but because of my history with City and the numbers to back it up. In the end, to run for the Balon d'Or, the Champions League is a big factor. I had some good years, but on the 2018/2019 season, we won four titles with City, and we just missed the Champions. We lucked out and only reached the semifinals. But that was a great year for me, I scored like a madman, we won the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Carabao Cup and the Supercup. I didn't even make it to the top ten. That's because the Champions League weighs so much in the decisionmaking. It's more important to make it to the finals than 4 titles altogether."
“In my opinion, last year, when we were eliminated on our game with Tottenham – if we had made it through, we had a good chance to make it to the finals. Those things happen, and we got a little distracted in the end. Away goals are brutal. We did things right, but the Champions League is unforgiving – one mistake and you're out. Two years ago, we got knocked off by Liverpool on a 3-0 match that I didn't get to play – that being said, two of their goals would have been ruled out by VAR. And the year after, a VAR decision took us out the competition."