The Manchester City manager warns his side they must be themselves ahead of the clash with the French champions in the Champions League
Pep Guardiola has joked that thinking about Neymar and Kylian Mbappe kept him awake at night ahead of Manchester City’s Champions League semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain.
The City boss, who is preparing for his first European semi-final since joining the club five years ago, says the French champions are a huge threat all over the pitch.
City have a fully fit squad ahead of Wednesday’s tie and Guardiola says that his players must impose their own game style and cannot afford to defend too deep because of the intelligence of PSG’s attackers.
What’s been said?
“I tried to sleep well last night and I slept when I was not thinking about their players like that (Mbappe and Neymar)!” Guardiola said ahead of the first leg at the Parc des Princes.
“We will try and stop them by defending as a team and playing well as a team. We will have to adjust something of course, but at the same time, it wouldn’t make any sense to not to be who we are.
“It is normal to adjust, like we will against [Wilfried] Zaha against Crystal Palace. We are going to concede counter-attacks, they have a lot of weapons.”
‘Neymar the king of Santos!’
Guardiola first watched the Brazilian superstar in his home country playing for Santos and was immediately impressed by his quality ahead of his move to Barcelona in 2013.
And he believes his former club would have won more Champions League trophies if Neymar had stayed at Camp Nou rather than moving to Ligue 1.
“I remember watching clips of Neymar there and then thinking ‘this is the king of Santos’,” Guardiola said. “The players had their mouths open.
“If Neymar had stayed at Barcelona, they would have won two or three Champions Leagues more. Him, [Lionel] Messi and [Luis] Suarez were the best up front.
“He went to Paris, which does not look a bad decision. It seems like a nice club, a nice city from the outside. I am an admirer. He makes football a pleasure.”
Mbappe & Foden ‘incredible talents’
The City boss also has first-hand experience of how dangerous Mbappe can be after he helped Monaco knock his side of the Champions League last-16 as a teenager in 2017.
Mbappe and Phil Foden are among the most exciting young players in the game and Guardiola was full of praise for both.
“Both are young, incredible talents with incredible skills, but it is difficult to compare players in different positions,” he said.
“I am sure that PSG are happy to have Mbappe, and you cannot imagine how happy we are to have Phil.
“I don’t give presents to players. They don’t play because they are a Manchester City player. He plays because he is at a good level.”