As Pep Guardiola heads into his first Champions League semifinal in 5 years, the Manchester City supervisor is considering the “mythical words” — as he described them — that had been uttered practically 30 years in the past by his mentor, Johan Cruyff.
“Get out and enjoy it,” was the message from Cruyff, the Barcelona coach on the time, to his gamers before they set off to Wembley Stadium for the 1992 European Cup ultimate towards Sampdoria.
Guardiola received’t say the identical phrases to his Manchester City gamers forward of the primary leg towards Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday — “I’m not Johan Cruyff,” he mentioned — however the sentiment would be the identical.
Enjoy the espresso within the airport terminal before the flight to Paris.
Enjoy the posh of the lodge within the French capital.
Enjoy the stroll with teammates on the day of the sport.
Most of all, take pleasure in having the eyes of the world on you.
“Enjoy the responsibility, the pressure, enjoy the fact that maybe you won’t live more this kind of situation,” Guardiola mentioned on Tuesday. “This is the elite. The prime gamers benefit from the conditions as a result of they take accountability. That’s why the best golf equipment win these competitions as a result of they play these competitions as a pleasant sport.
“That’s what I want to see in my team and that’s what we’ll try to do.”
It was a rousing, stirring efficiency from Guardiola in his pre-match information convention, the shackles seemingly off a supervisor and deep soccer thinker who typically seems to hold the load of the world on his shoulders. After all, he has lastly led City past the quarterfinals of the competitors, for the primary time since he arrived in 2016.
“I have the sense of the work well done already,” Guardiola mentioned with a large smile.
Yet the onerous work has simply began.
PSG is trying to go one higher than final season, when it misplaced within the ultimate to Bayern Munich, and accommodates two of essentially the most gifted and mesmeric gamers on this planet.
Guardiola was even in jovial temper speaking about Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
“They are too good!” he mentioned, before laughing. “I try to sleep well these last nights and I slept well when I was not thinking of them.”
Mbappe, Guardiola mentioned, was a participant with “the whole of football ahead of him.” As for Neymar, Guardiola knew the ahead was particular when he first noticed him on the Club World Cup in 2011, when coach of Barcelona and Neymar was at Santos.
“I remember he was the king of Santos and all the players were open-mouthed, saying, ‘Oh my God, what a player,’” Guardiola recalled. “A pleasure to look at as a spectator. He has Brazil on his shoulders and their No. 10 will not be straightforward to put on.
“I’m a big admirer, as he helps to make our football better.”
Some are billing the match because the “Oil Derby,” a nod to the golf equipment’ respective possession from Qatar (PSG) and Abu Dhabi (City). Others are labelling it as a sport between a bunch of people (PSG) and a workforce (City).
Indeed, City winger Riyad Mahrez emphasised the collective in his squad by saying: “We don’t have big stars like (Lionel) Messi or (Cristiano) Ronaldo but everyone can play, everyone makes the difference.”
And Guardiola accepted that PSG has the benefit of expertise as a result of the French champions performed in a Champions League ultimate simply eight months in the past and, with the likes of Mbappe and Neymar, have World Cup and Champions League winners of their ranks.
In the City workforce, solely Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling stay from the aspect that reached the semifinals in 2016, when it misplaced to Real Madrid. Bernardo Silva performed within the semifinals for Monaco the next yr, too.
Guardiola received fairly emotional when he mentioned what attending to this stage meant for City’s gamers, particularly on this pandemic-blighted season once they have already received the English League Cup and are near capturing the Premier League.
“It’s remarkable what we’ve done,” he mentioned. “We’re two victories away (from profitable the Champions League) in a yr that it’s been troublesome for everybody, for households world wide. We’ve misplaced households and pals.
“But to be so constant, we have now two titles to battle for and tomorrow we begin a dream. What we would like is to not go to the ultimate. I need us to be ourselves, the way in which we play. That’s my want, my dream. After that, the gamers with their high quality will determine.
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