Champions League

Pochettino peppers Guardiola with praise before PSG clash with Manchester City

Mauricio Pochettino, who took over from Thomas Tuchel as Paris Saint-Germain coach, is attempting to lead the side to their second consecutive appearance in the final of the Champions League.
Mauricio Pochettino, who took over from Thomas Tuchel as Paris Saint-Germain coach, is attempting to lead the side to their second consecutive appearance in the final of the Champions League. Christof STACHE AFP/File

Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino on Tuesday hailed Champions League opponents Manchester City as one of the world’s best teams with one of the game’s most accomplished coaches in the shape of Pep Guardiola.

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Pochettino talked up PSG's semi-final adversaries on the eve of their first leg clash at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday night.

"Of course, it's going to be tough,” said Pochettino. “And when you talk about Guardiola, you're talking about one of the best coaches in the world, if not the best.

“I admire Pep a lot, what he is doing in his career, not only because of titles, it's not the legacy that he's building in football.”

Success

Guardiola had won 21 trophies as a coach at Barcelona and Bayern Munich before arriving at Manchester City in 2016.

His City side go into the first leg on the back of winning their ninth piece of silverware - a fourth successive League Cup - against Pochettino’s old side Tottenham Hotspur.

City are also on the verge of securing their third Premier League title in four years while PSG are in a dogfight with Lille and Monaco to retain the French crown.

When Pochettino was in charge at Tottenham, his side pulled off a shock victory over Guardiola's City in the last eight on their way to the 2019 final where they lost to Liverpool.

Two years on, the 49-year-old Argentine has steered his side past Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the knockout stages to stand within 180 minutes of a second final.

Guardiola won the trophy as a player in 1992 during Johan Cruyff’s spell as Barcelona manager.

As a coach, Guardiola guided the Catalans to success in 2009 but has not led any team to glory since his last victory with Barcelona in 2011.

Memory

On the eve of match in Paris, Guardiola cited the Dutch legend who orchestrated Barcleona’s first win in the competition - then called in the European Cup - nearly 30 years ago.

“I learn from Johan Cruyff,” said Guardiola. “When you arrive at these stages, there is only one thing you can do and that is enjoy the game. Enjoy the fact that you have not lived too many 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.”

Strike force

The hosts are likely to deploy nearly 600 million euros worth of attacking venom in shape of Neymar, Kylian Mbappé and Angel Di Maria.

Marco Verratti has recovered from injury and is likely to pull the strings in midfield for the Parisians while skipper Marquinhos - hurt during the first leg of the quarter-final against Bayern Munich - will organise the rearguard.

"They have a lot of weapons,” added Guardiola. “They're used to playing teams who defend 90 minutes. But that's not the best way to defend against the team who have everything.

"The best way is to impose your game like we have for five years... We know the opponents. The way we enjoy to play is having the ball." 

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