‘It’s how you handle the pain’: Pep Guardiola prepares City players for PSG

Pep Guardiola has said his Manchester City players need to brace themselves for “pain” and having to “suffer” when they face Paris Saint-Germain in their Champions League encounter on Tuesday night. City are in the French capital for their second Group A fixture and will come up against what is arguably football’s most formidable attacking trident.

Guardiola says he is not entirely sure how any team, including City, can stop Kylian Mbappé, Neymar and Lionel Messi if they are in the mood. “We have to be compact, help each other and know we’re going to suffer and have pain,” said City’s manager. “It’s how you handle the pain;. They’re so good, these type of teams; you have to be able to suffer for 90 minutes.”

Messi is expected to start on the bench for PSG, having recently sustained a knee injury. Even if that is the case, Guardiola believes it is imperative his players operate as a collective against Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

“We don’t defend well because we have good defenders,” he said. “It’s because everyone puts their heart and spirit into helping each other. Defending depends on the will of the players. I don’t know what we should do to stop them with that amount of quality. But PSG have so much talent we have to do it as a team; we can’t put pressure on just one player.”

City’s manager spoke warmly of the player who was fundamental to the Barcelona side he guided to 14 trophies in four seasons at Camp Nou and whom he tried to bring to Manchester last year. “What Messi’s done in his career is more than exceptional. Hopefully tomorrow he can play, for the benefit of the game,” he said.

Although it is only a matter of months since City beat PSG home and away in last season’s Champions League semi-finals, Guardiola feels, in this instance, history is bunk. “Last season they were a fantastic team and it was a tight game and now they have Messi,” he said. “They’re huge competitors. It’s a new game, a new season, a new challenge.

“The confidence is not that we beat them in the knockout last season. Football is highs and lows and can change so quick. Last season they were better in the first half in Paris but we defended better than we expected, punished them on the counter and did it well.”