Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says anything can happen in the UEFA Champions League one-off knockout format but wants to embrace it ahead of Saturday’s quarter-final against Olympique Lyonnais.
Olympique Lyon heads into the game in Lisbon as the underdogs, although Manchester City have never gone further than the semi-finals in the UEFA Champions League and have the weight of expectation on their shoulders.
City would be heavy favourites in a two-legged affair but the one-off nature of this season’s knockout stages creates a different dynamic which Guardiola acknowledged would test his side against a strong opponent.
“The format is what it is. We adapted to the new protocol,” Guardiola said.
“Now we prepare for Lyon. Tomorrow is the time to be ourselves. I want to see my team be who they are, do everything with their soul and their minds and after that the football will dictate whether we deserve it or not.”
Lyon may have finished way off the title pace in Ligue 1 in 2019-20, ending up seventh, but Guardiola was full of respect for Les Gones after their last 16 win over Juventus.
“Anything can happen,” the Spaniard said. “It’s a different competition. It’s a knockout competition. It’s a final at every stage.
“We are ready to do our best performance to go through. The pressure is always there, we try to do our best like the other teams. We saw how tight it was in the last two quarter-finals, tomorrow will not be an exception.
“We saw Lyon’s last games against PSG and Juventus. We know them quite well. They are incredibly organised and so aggressive. They are so fast up front, with quality in the wing backs.
“They are a top team. It’s the quarter finals - we cannot expect anything else. It is not going to be easy.
“It’s a final so it’s one game. Well try to avoid mistakes so they cant punish us. The pressure is always there to do our best.
“In a knockout game anything can happen. It’s difficult to beat the big teams over two games, but in one game anything can happen.”