Pep Guardiola has told his Manchester City players they need to forget trying to control the chaos, keep their emotions in check, and go out to make sure they “remember forever” this season’s Champions League campaign.
The Blues boss has already taken the club further in the competition than in any of his previous four attempts, and they hold a 2-1 lead over Paris Saint-Germain from the first leg.
But City have a recent history of crashing out of Europe in madcap fashion, not least when they beat Tottenham 4-3 in a crazy, topsy-turvy game two years ago only to lose on away goals.
Spurs were managed by current PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino, and Guardiola is wary of the Argentine manager’s ability to produce tactical surprises.
And he says that the madness of that quarter-final, when they cancelled out Spurs’ first-leg lead in the first few minutes, trailed 2-1, and bounced back to lead 4-2 only to concede a controversial Fernando Llorente leveller and have a late Raheem Sterling “winner” chalked off by the VAR, is beyond their control.
“Nobody can control the chaos, I cannot predict what is going to happen tomorrow,” said Guardiola. “I would love to tell you, but I don’t know.
“It’s the past – different players, different moments. It’s part of our memories in our period here.
“In our careers and our lives you have good moments, disappointing moments. We made an exceptional performance that day and in that case we could not go through. Now we are going to try to reach the final.”
But if his players cannot control the chaos, he will tell them that they need to stay on top of their emotions at key moments – not getting too excited about leading, and not being disheartened if things go against them.
“Emotions means you can predict the game but it can be completely different,” said Guardiola. “You are not going to play 90 minutes like we played the second half in Paris. That would be a big battle.
“There are moments to suffer, we are going to react well and impose ourselves. They have to visualise they can do it.
“It’s not different to what they’ve done in the last seven months, go out there and win. Not demanding anything special.
“We’ve had tough games in the Premier League, same level as PSG, always difficult games so to go there and do what we’ve done this season, stay calm, take the ball and try to regain our momentum and try to win the game.
“I don’t expect for one second we’ll play like that second half in Paris. How quick we play, that’s what will be important.
“It belongs to the players, something they will remember forever, they have to make a step forward and show you can win the game, they are going to do it.”