John Stones enjoys the prospect of talking to Neymar and Kylian Mbappe once again as Manchester City see a spot in the Champions League final.
Pep Guardiola’s side came from behind to claim a 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain last week at the Parc des Princes, putting them in a strong position for Tuesday’s return to the Etihad Stadium.
PSG’s all-star attack was largely thwarted, with midfielder Marquinhos leading them into an early lead and especially after half-time.
Mbappe failed to attempt a single shot for the first time in a Champions League game, concluding 90 minutes in which the Stones and central defensive partner Ruben Dias understandably took plenty of praise for their display.
“It is never easy for the person we meet. On the big occasions, it matters most, ”Stones told reporters at a news conference on Monday after Mbappe was confirmed as a member of PSG’s travel party despite maintaining a calf issue during the first meeting.
“Meeting two world-class players is exciting for us as defenders. To test ourselves, you need to show our abilities and show how we can adapt to the challenge that lies ahead of us to keep them quiet.
“I think we did really, really well in the second half of the previous game
“It’s another exciting spectacle tomorrow. Hopefully we can keep the whole team quiet, not just the two of us, and get through to something special that would be the final. ”
City are in the semi-finals for the first time since 2016 with a lot of knockout stage disappointments that have hit them under Guardiola.
However, the Stones are feeling setbacks in relation to Monaco, Liverpool, Tottenham and Lyon in recent seasons to sharpen collective minds as PSG aim to topple the deficit.
“I think all the things that have happened when we go out have made us a stronger team,” he said.
“The disappointment of being knocked out in harsh circumstances is hard to take, and something we have had to use season-to-season – especially this season – as fuel to go and motivate ourselves to take the next step and get our goal, which is to win the Champions League.
“This season we have a fantastic opportunity to reach the final. Just try to use these feelings of disappointment to motivate us to do better. ”
The Stones often reiterated the refusal that City should “be who we are” in the second half – largely to the maximum for their manager in recent weeks – and believe that playing a draw can be fatal to their chances.
“I think we have to attack the game like we would every other game, definitely go out to win. We have never entered a game if we are in a good position and think we have to sit there and defend, ”the English international added.
“It’s a downward spiral if we go into the game like that. We do what we have always done, be who we are and try to win the game. Play as Man City. Everyone knows how we play. ”