Man City boss Pep Guardiola to use mentor Johan Cruyff tactic to beat PSG

Pep Guardiola summoned the spirit of his mentor Johan Cruyff ahead of Manchester City's latest Champions League test.

As a player under Cruyff at Barcelona, Guardiola learned the way to win the big prizes was to relax and enjoy the big occasions, rather than being consumed by the fear of failure.

That is why, ahead of Wednesday's semi-final first leg at Paris St Germain, arguably the biggest game in the careers of City's players, Guardiola sought to play down what is at stake.

“I learned from Johan Cruyff that when you arrive at these stages, there is only one thing you can do and that's enjoy the game,” said Guardiola.

“Enjoy the responsibility and the pressure. Enjoy the fact that you have not lived more of these situations. That is elite. Top players enjoy this situation because they take the responsibility.

“That's why the greatest win this competition and the greatest clubs win this competition, because they play it as a friendly game.

“That's what I want to see in my team and that is we are going to do it.”

Cruyff imparted that wisdom in his final message to his Barca side before they beat Sampdoria 1-0 in the final at Wembley 29 years ago.

“The mythical sentence, just one minute before we went out at Wembley,” said Guardiola. “The first one was 'get out and enjoy it'.

“I'm not Johan Cruyff, but I'm going to tell the players to enjoy the travel, the coffee in the terminal, the hotel tonight, our dinner together watching the other semi-final and then, tomorrow, the walk, the training.

“The whole process, not just the moment when you're going to play. We're privileged to be one of the best four teams in Europe this season and we must enjoy it.

“We know how tough it is to be here, that's why Cruyff had the idea – 'guys, once we arrive in the Champions League final, there's no reason to be worried, sad or concerned about what's going to happen – if we lose, we're going to try again next season'.

“Once you arrive at this stage, you're nervous because you're thinking of the consequences, not the joy of playing the game and the pleasure of beating them.

“You have to face them and say 'you're good, we're good too, so let's go'. This is the mindset that the greatest teams and athletes in all sports have.

“If we want to take this step, like we have done in many years, we have to do it.”

To do that, City must get past PSG, last season's beaten finalists, who have two of the world's best players in Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

But Guardiola said City should not have an inferiority complex at this stage of the competition, but instead focus on how they can hurt Mauricio Pochettino's side with their own weapons.

“They have the quality with Mbappe, Neymar, Di Maria and Verratti,” said Guardiola. “But we'll try to impose our game.

“We know we're going to suffer in both games and they're going to have chances, all we can do is try to create chances, too.

“Everyone who loves football knows the quality they have, so we're not going to deny that.

“But at the same time, we're in the semi-finals of the Champions League, so what do you expect?

“Are we going to spend 90 minutes thinking how good one or two players are or try to do what we want to do?”

City are three games away from a first Champions League title. If Guardiola's side do go all the way, the late, great Johan Cruyff will have played his part.

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