Before the Champions League final between Manchester City and Inter Milan, this Saturday evening (9 p.m.) in Istanbul, Daniel Riolo talks about his admiration for Pep Guardiola, whom he would like to see rewarded with a European coronation. Football.fr met the star editorialist of RMC during the recent Winamax Sismix, a poker festival organized in Marrakech by the online gaming operator. The sports journalist, poker fan and host of the RMC Poker Show on Sunday evening was one of the people invited by Winamax.
Football.fr: Daniel, what do you expect from the Champions League final?
Daniel Riolo: What I expect from this final is the consecration of a coach, the best coach in the world. I think it’s a reality and we can’t say anything else. He is the best in his work, which is absolutely admirable, in everything he has put in place at Manchester City. That it is rewarded this Saturday, it seems logical to me. Afterwards, he has to beat a team that I really like, who work well. I like the coach of Inter (Simone Inzaghi), I like players in this team. Obviously they are challengers and obviously, in a match, anything is possible. I will even say that Guardiola is typically the coach who can be knocked down by what another coach can put in place. They can tirelessly come up against the internal defense and be planted on the counter. It is a scenario that exists. But City look very superior, there is no flaw in this team.
Guardiola is one of the coaches who have revolutionized football, the game. How can football fans still doubt Guardiola?
If there are football fans who didn’t like Manchester City-Real Madrid, let them come and explain football to me! What do they expect from football? That we are not a fan of Guardiola, OK, I am not asking them to be a fan. We ask to recognize an absolutely crazy, admirable, fantastic work. I don’t understand them. In fact, those who do not like Guardiola, for me, are people who prefer the ease in life, who do not like perfection, who are not ambitious. I think these are people who are rather jealous in life, these are people who have a tendency towards mediocrity, who will prefer The Great Forgiveness At Godfather (Le Grand Pardon by Alexandre Arcady, released in 1982, is a “French Godfather”, editor’s note)who will prefer watching reality TV to an intelligent show because it relaxes them, who will prefer to go to McDo rather than to a good brasserie. I do not criticize simple tastes. I come from a simple background, I was not raised in elitism, but I always grew up in the idea that I wanted more, that I wanted better, that I had wanted to be educated in taste, that I wanted to go towards a kind of excellence. Guardiola, that’s what offers me. I’m not saying he has to win all the time. If a guy goes against him with even a gross tactic and beats him, that’s fine, I’m not saying ‘cheer‘, but I say that’s fine. You succeeded, I have no problem with that, but to say that we prefer that to that, no. I don’t understand.
Especially since Guardiola has this ambition to impose his style, which is more complicated than to thwart the opponent…
That a coach does not want to work as much as Guardiola, we can understand it, because the hardest part is to put in place an offensive tactic compared to a concrete one. That a guy opposes him on a match, puts him against, and beats him, very well. You won, I have no problem with that, great! I’m not saying bravo to you because I don’t like it. I don’t like this way of doing things but you won, I respect, I don’t spit on him. But let me be told that I preferred that to, for example, the victory of the great Barça in the Champions League final, no. You say bravo, but don’t tell me that you liked it, that you had fun. No, unless you are a fan of the team in question. Otherwise, don’t tell me that, from a football point of view, you liked it. Because, in fact, you haven’t seen any football, you’ve seen guys defending.
Where is the role of the media in all of this? Some journalists and ex-players-turned-consultants don’t like Guardiola…
I can’t explain to you why people don’t explain that what Guardiola puts in place is extraordinary.
The French football fan, however, has bad examples of defensive and victorious football: the two World Cups won in 98 th 2018.
A World Cup, you can win it in a certain way, because you make a country vibrate for a month. That, I understand perfectly, is raw emotion and there is chauvinism. If you are totally a football fan, you want to see a good game, beautiful gestures, goals, I would always prefer coaches who have this ambition. Then there are defensive tactics that I found very interesting.
Did the victory in 98 create a generation of pragmatic fans?
I do not believe. There was a whole country overjoyed. It was great because it was the first time, like for Portugal in 2016. They had been waiting for this for a long time. The national team is something else again. There is a collective pleasure, we speak to a people. There, you return to the debate of the 2018 World Cup, which is simple: if you are a supporter of other teams, the French team pisses you off, you don’t want them to win. At that World Cup, nobody in the world was for the France team and, ultimately, you’re French, you don’t care, you don’t care what other people think. What happens when you’re neutral? You want to see football when you’re neutral, you don’t want to see the 2018 France team win. When you’re neutral, I hope you want to see Manchester City win! Because it’s football. Well, if you are an Inter fan, you want to see them win even in a disgusting way, it’s not a problem, even if Inter are a good team.
What did you think of Inter during his career?
Frankly, I like the players who lead this team, there is a midfielder that I really like. I love Barella, Çalhanoglu, even Brozovic who is a great player. Lautaro Martinez, Edin Dzeko, there is ball in front, it is not a team of butchers. The history of the team is quite incredible. It’s like poker, if it’s played over one evening, you can beat the strongest, on the other hand, over several days, it’s more complicated. Going back and forth, I put my house on City. In a match, I don’t put my house on the line (laughs).
What small bet would you place on this final?
I’m giving you a City with a two-goal difference, the odds should be around 2.5 on Wina (the odds are 2.25 on Winamax before the match).