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Playing for a place in a Champions League final a privilege, says Guardiola

Playing for a place in a Champions League final a privilege, says Guardiola
Pep Guardiola says having the opportunity to qualify for this season’s UEFA Champions League final is a privilege for him and his players.

City go into Tuesday’s semi-final second leg against PSG 2-1 up from the first game in Paris last week.

After three consecutive quarter-final exits, City now stand on the brink of history, with a maiden appearance in Europe’s showpiece final in sight.

It’s the latest in a sequence of significant games for City, having played an FA Cup semi-final, Carabao Cup final and a series of crucial Premier League games in recent weeks.

It’s been a testing period, but Guardiola says being involved in matches of this magnitude is an honour.

“Privileged to live it. Privileged to be here, to try to make the final,” he said.

“For most of us in this club, it is the first time [we have played in a Champions League semi-final].

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“We are going to do a good game. What we have to do is win tomorrow and after we see what happens.

“Now we arrive in a good moment. I said to the guys don’t think too much to win the game.

“The same message we have done for the last six or seven months is the same message for tomorrow.

“We approach the game with a small advantage and we have to play to win the game. This is what we will do.”

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PSG showed in the first half of the first leg – as well as in both their quarter-final matches against Bayern Munich - what a superb side they are.

In Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Angel Di Maria, Leandro Paredes, Marquinhos and Marco Verratti, they are a team full of quality and ability.

Guardiola knows Tuesday evening’s game is by no means a formality and believes controlling emotions will be key for his players.

“I know what we are playing for,” the boss added.

“In these types of games, you don't need much emotions. You need to be more calm and know what to do.

“I don’t need to tell anyone - the backroom staff, the players, the chefs - everybody knows how important it is. That is the situation.

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“Stay at home tonight, arrive in the afternoon, have a pre-match meal and go to the stadium.

“We spoke yesterday about what we have to do. We spoke about us and what we have to do, and we are going to try and do it.

“I didn’t speak one word about them, knowing they can change the shape because the manager is so clever. I don't know what they are going to do.

“We will focus on our game. The desire to reach the final is normal because we have never been here before."

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Meanwhile, Guardiola says he fully expects his side to have difficult moments in Tuesday’s second leg.

But he has instructed his players to stick to the principles that have served us so well throughout the season.

City have been in remarkable form for much of the campaign, winning 10 of our 11 Champions League matches, as well as our last 19 games away from home in all competitions.

And the boss sees no reason to deviate from the style of football that has earned us such strong results.

"Emotions mean you can play the game, but the game can be completely different than you expect," he said. 

"You cannot play 90 mins like we played in the second half [in Paris]. I would love to but it won’t happen.

“You have to understand it will be a big battle and we are going to suffer. They have to visualise that we are going to do it.

"What we have to do is not different to what we have done over the last seven months. Go out and play our game and win.

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“We are not demanding anything different.

“We play tough games in the Premier League, as tough as PSG, and in the Champions League you play tough games.

“Just go there and do what we have done this season.

“Take the ball, try to regain our momentum and try to win the game.

"I don’t expect for one second we will play 90 mins like the second half. How we play in the bad moments will be important.

"After that it belongs to the players' desire to do something nice for our lives to be remembered forever."

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