Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has called on his players to keep their heads ahead of Champions League semi-finals on Tuesday against Paris Saint-Germain.
A mixed first game saw City dominate the first half and outscore the second, with goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyadh Mahrez shooting from Guardiola’s side to a 2-1 victory at Prince’s Park. With two away goals in their name, City have a huge advantage over their rivals, who have to score twice to have any chance of qualifying for the final.
You would assume that the final will be the most difficult match of the City season, but Guardiola wants to emphasize that Tuesday’s match – the second stage of the semifinals – will undoubtedly be harder.
“It’s completely different in the final,” Guardiola said. “The second stage of the semi-final is always the most difficult game, more than the final.
“From my experience, the semi-finals are always difficult because you know you’re playing with the result of the first game in your mind and you’re thinking ‘Final, final, final’. Sometimes you can forget what you have to do, namely win the game you are playing. That’s why I don’t think much about it.
“From my experience, it’s always difficult in the semifinals, not only in this club, but in all the clubs I’ve been to.”
This is the first time Guardiola has reached this point in the Champions League with City. He reached the semifinals three times with Bayern Munich, but each time he played against Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
His last season with Barcelona also brought a semi-final heart attack, as the Catalans fell to Chelsea and the late goal of Fernando Torres.
“I know exactly what we’re playing for,” Guardiola continued. “I don’t have to tell the players, the backstage staff, the doctors or the cooks how important this is. We’ve been looking for this moment for many, many years, but we just have to stay home tonight, arrive calm tomorrow, and go play the game.
“We will control our emotions by doing exactly what we have been doing throughout the season, which means that in bad times we have to stay calm.”
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