Premier League club, Manchester City and its coach Pep Guardiola passed the test of French Ligue 1 club, Paris Saint Germain in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final round on Wednesday, April 28, 2021.
Pep Guardiola took Manchester City to Parc Des Princes to play against coach Mauricio Pochettino’s side that defeated FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich on the route to the semi-final stage of the Champions League.
After defeating such Champions League’s household names, Manchester City were expected to be an easier match for the French champions despite the superb form of the Premier League club.
Indeed, in the first half of the semi-final game, PSG showed that their victories over Barcelona and Bayern Munich were no flukes when the club’s captain, Marquinhos, scored a header in the 15th minute to give the club an early lead.
PSG went into the locker room with the led and it was expected that they would either defend the lead in the second half or come out to score more goals. But the reverse was the case. The second half of the game was all about Manchester City.
The Premier League club got back into the game courtesy of Kevin De Bruyne’s 64th-minute strike. Despite how hard PSG pushed to regain the lead, the solidity of City’s defense made it impossible.
Pep Guardiola and his boys buried the game in the 71st minute when Algerian star, Riyad Mahrez scored City’s second goal. Afterward, the two teams were not able to score more goals. Hence, Manchester City ran away with a 2-1 away victory.
The victory has given Manchester City the advantage going into the second leg of the Champions League league semi-final round. What Pep Guardiola and his boys need to do to make it to the final of the Champions League for the first time in the history of Manchester City is to either draw or beat PSG at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.
Champions League semi-final round: Guardiola Warns Man City not to be shy in the second leg
Ahead of the return leg, Pep Guardiola warned his players not to be shy in the second leg and urged them to play as they did in the second half of the first leg if they want to stand a chance of making it to the final of the Champions League.
He said: “The first 15 minutes at Borussia Dortmund was the same, the first half at home vs Dortmund was the same. Everyone had the desire but we have to learn. It’s just the second time in our history we’re at this stage. Nearly 80 percent of the players have never played in a Champions League semi-final. It’s not like other teams. It’s a process. I have to convince them that when we are who we are everything will be easier. Hopefully, that will happen in the next game.
“You have to be aggressive against these big stars or you can’t do it. When we’re more aggressive doing a good intensity, we were different. We can be more aggressive and fluid.
“I was happy in the locker room after the players were just calm. Not cheering, just calm. Anything can happen in the second leg. Now we go to Crystal Palace to make an important step in the Premier League.”
While the coach of PSG, Mauricio Pochettino, told BT Sport that: “The two different halves, first half we did well. It was difficult to dominate a team like City. We created chances. We deserved to go to the dressing room with an advantage. In the second half they deserved it, the goals were two accidents. They dominated the second half and created more than us. One half for each.
“For the two goals, we feel very disappointed. The first was difficult, the second sometimes happens in the semi-final and that is really painful that it happens at this moment.
“Difficult to explain why we were better [in the first half], and in second they were more consistent. For us, it was difficult to cope with their exchanges and physical conditions. They were more aggressive and for us was difficult to recover the ball. We didn’t show this energy you need when you recover to keep possession and force them to go deeper. That’s what happened.
“It’s the second leg, in football, you need to believe, go there in six days and do the same, approach the game like today, win score goals. We are in a little advantage of City but you always need to try.”