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Guardiola: This is an important moment in our careers

Guardiola: This is an important moment in our careers
Pep Guardiola says his Manchester City side are ‘incredibly focused’ as they prepare to embrace the special challenge of Saturday’s Champions League quarter-final clash against Olympique Lyonnais.

City will tackle the French Ligue One side in Saturday’s one-off last eight encounter with the tie being staged at Sporting Lisbon’s Estadio Jose Alvalade, kick-off 8pm (BST).

The prize awaiting the victors will be a Wednesday night semi-final assignment against either German champions Bayern Munich or Spanish giants Barcelona, who play their own last eight tie later tonight.

It’s huge incentive for City though Lyon will present a formidable obstacle – a fact amply illustrated by their excellent 2-2 aggregate victory on away goals in the last 16 over Italian champions Juventus.

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But City are also in buoyant mood following last Friday’s impressive 2-1 win over Real Madrid which sealed a 4-2 last 16 aggregate win.

Having arrived in Portugal on Monday, Guardiola and his players have spent the past five days honing preparations ahead of Saturday night’s clash.

The boss says that for his players every game from now on will, effectively be a final, with no second chances. But he says the way his squad have gone about preparing has left him feeling ‘incredibly proud’.

“I would like to tell you what is going to happen tomorrow, but I don’t know. But I am incredibly proud with the way we have behaved the last two or three weeks,” the boss asserted.

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“I think it’s an important moment in our careers. I would prefer to be at home, but this is a special situation. It is comfortable, it is nice to be here. Hopefully we can do a good game and stay a few more days in this lovely country.

“After lockdown they have been incredibly focused. We accepted the deal to help our club go to the semi-final. The format is what it is. We adapted to the new protocol.

“Now we prepare for Lyon. Tomorrow is the time to be ourselves. I want to see my team be who they are, do everything with their soul and their minds and after that the football will dictate whether we deserve it or not.”

It’s a unique look to the final stages of this year’s tournament with the quarter-finals and semi-finals being staged in Portugal in a sudden death knockout format

For his part, Guardiola believes it is a special challenge, and one that leaves no margin for error, especially given Lyon’s pedigree.

“Anything can happen. It’s a different competition. It’s a knockout competition. It’s a final at every stage. We are ready to do our best performance to go through,” Guardiola asserted.

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“The pressure is always there, we try to do our best like the other teams. We saw how tight it was in the last two quarter-finals, tomorrow will not be an exception.

"We saw Lyon’s last games against PSG and Juventus. We know them quite well. They are incredibly organised and so aggressive. They are so fast up front, with quality in the wing backs.

"They are a top team. It’s the quarter finals - we cannot expect anything else. It is not going to be easy.

“It’s a final so it’s one game. We’ll try to avoid mistakes so they can’t punish us. The pressure is always there to do our best.

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“In a knockout game anything can happen. It’s difficult to beat the big teams over two games, but in one game anything can happen.”

The boss also provided an update on the fitness of Sergio Aguero.

The Argentine striker underwent knee surgery in June and Guardiola revealed that the 32-year-old’s recovery was still continuing.

“Sergio is still in Barcelona. If he was to come here, he would have to do a test,” Guardiola revealed.

“He is still in Barcelona making progress with his recovery.”

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