MANCHESTER: pep Guardiola (pix) Monday called on his Manchester City players to control their emotions if they are to reach a first-ever Champions League final as they take a 2-1 lead in their semi-final second leg against Paris Saint- Germain.
City came from behind with a superb second-half performance in the French capital last week to take a giant leap towards a goal they have pursued since Sheikh Mansour’s 2008 takeover transformed the fortunes of the club.
Guardiola won the Champions League twice as a coach when he was in charge of Barcelona, but has failed to do so in the past 10 years as he has suffered many painful outings from the Europe’s first club competition as Barca, Bayern Munich and City boss.
City are set to seal a third Premier League title in four years this weekend and Guardiola urged his side to maintain the same focus throughout the season to take out PSG on Tuesday.
“The return leg of the semi-final is always the most difficult game, more than the final. We have to control our emotions to do exactly what we need to do, ”Guardiola said in his pre-match press conference.
“You can’t play 90 minutes like we played in the second half (in Paris). I would love to but it won’t happen.
“You have to understand that it will be a big battle and we are going to suffer. They have to visualize that we are going to do it.
“What we need to do is no different from what we have done in the past seven months. Go out and play our game and win. “
PSG also dream of winning the Champions League for the first time, but if they want to advance to the final for a second consecutive season, they will need to score at least twice at the Etihad.
City haven’t conceded more than once in a Champions League game all season long as the center-back partnership of Ruben Dias and John Stones stamped out the kind of defensive failures that cost Guardiola’s men the previous years in this competition.
Stones admitted the English champions must remain wary of the ‘world-class’ talents of PSG star duo Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, but said City are confident to finally make it to the final
“I think (we are) quietly confident, we have to be. It’s a great opportunity for us as players and as a club, a chance to make a Champions League final, ”said Stones.
“We have to go where we left off. We are really confident and excited for the challenge ahead.”
Mbappe is injury doubt after missing Saturday’s 2-1 win over Lens due to calf strain.
The France World Cup winner traveled to Manchester with the rest of the PSG squad and Guardiola rejected any suggestion of not being available.
“He’s going to play,” Guardiola added. “I can’t wait for him to play, for the football and the game itself.” – AFP