Men's Team

'Enjoy the pressure': Guardiola's message to players ahead of PSG

'Enjoy the pressure': Guardiola's message to players ahead of PSG
Pep Guardiola says his players must enjoy the pressure that comes with playing in a Champions League semi-final if Manchester City are to be successful against Paris Saint-Germain.

City face last season’s runners-up in the first leg at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday and Guardiola believes it is important to embrace the magnitude of the occasion and the challenge posed by the opposition.

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The boss accepts PSG will have periods of dominance, but, inspired by the teachings of his mentor Johann Cruyff, he says it is important City relish rather than worry about the size of the task in front of them, a trait he believes all great players share.

“We know we are going to suffer in both games and they will have chances,” Guardiola explained at his pre-match press conference.

“I know the weapons they have. Every person who loves football, everyone knows the quality they have.

“We are not going to deny that. But we are in the semi-final of the Champions League, what do we expect? To play against average players? Of course not.

“PSG do not just have two players who make the difference. There are many other situations and we have to know them and we have to talk about them.

“Are we going to think about their players or do what we want to do?

“I learned from Johan Cruyff, enjoy the game. Enjoy the responsibility. Enjoy the pressure.  That is the elite.

“That's why the greatest win these competitions because they play like a friendly game. That’s what I want to see in my team.

“The mythical sentence before we played the final at Wembley against Sampdoria in 1992. He said ‘go out and enjoy’. I know I won’t say this because I am not Johan Cruyff.

“But enjoy the travel, the coffee at the airport, the night in the hotel, our dinner together, enjoying this press conference and tomorrow enjoy the walk, the training. It’s the process.

“We are privileged to be one of the best four teams this season and it must be enjoyed. This is what I want to see in my players.

WATCH: Guardiola: This is a special season

“We know how tough, how difficult it is to be here. To be here is not to be worried or sad or too concerned what is going to happen in the future if we lose.

“Once you arrive in these stages, you are nervous because you are thinking about the consequences.

“You are not thinking about the pleasure to beat them, to try and face them and say you are good, we are good too, let’s try.

“This is the mindset the greatest teams and greatest athletes in all sports have.”

City depart for Paris on Tuesday and Guardiola has no injury concerns ahead of the trip.

Following Sunday’s Carabao Cup final victory, the 50-year-old revealed there is a positive mood in the camp and the motivation to deliver a good performance.

“Everyone is fit and ready and happy, I think,” he added. “All of us are happy.

"As a manager, I am grateful to have this opportunity to be there. For Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, who have many Champions Leagues in their cabinet, sometimes it is normality to play these games.

“For us it is new and we are incredibly grateful to live it. It is the first time [in the semi-finals] and it’s so nice to go to Paris.”

There, City will come against a side packed with talent and spearheaded by the attacking duo of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

WATCH: Carabao Cup champions prepare for Paris

Guardiola will not be making any major adjustments in a bid to thwart the two forwards, believing the key to success is for his side to stick to the principles which have proved so effective so far this season.

“I always believe with the quality of the players, there isn't a defensive strategy to stop them,” the manager said.  

“They are too good. They are incredible players, that’s why they are there. We will try to stop them, defend well together as a team, play good football as a team and try to score goals.

“Of course, we have to adjust some things. You have to against these players. But we have fought to arrive at this stage. This group of players, it wouldn't make sense to not be who we are.

“The more you are yourself, the more chance of getting through. If you think about your opponent, it’s harder. In these stages, you don't find opponents who don't have great skills.

“The way we enjoy to play is have the ball. When you have the ball and use it in the right moments, the team is balanced. The way you play with the ball creates stability in the team. That is what we will try to do tomorrow.

“I am sure we will be ourselves and get the result we need for the second leg.”

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