Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has given insight to what was said at half time to mastermind his team’s comeback in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain. Goals from Kevin de Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez have given City a 2-1 lead heading into next week’s second leg at the Etihad.
PSG controlled large parts of the first half and deservedly took the lead through a Marquinhos header.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side failed to capitalise on their domination and could only take a 1-0 lead into the break.
Guardiola was pleased with the start his team made but admitted the lack of experience at the semi-final stage was clear to see.
Guardiola told BT Sport: “We started really and after we conceded the goal. We held the pressure.
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PSG then had Idrissa Gueye sent off for a poor tackle on Ilkay Gundogan to make the Ligue 1 side’s task even harder.
When asked what he changed at half time, Guardiola said he wanted his team to be more relaxed.
The Spaniard asked his players to change the way they pressed PSG, and it worked wonders.
“Sometimes you need to be more relaxed, the first half was normal,” he added.
“In 180 minutes you don’t want to lose the ball, you don’t play free.
“We changed the way we press, we were so passive. The last 10-15 minutes we were more aggressive because it’s not easy against Neymar, [Kylian] Mbappe and [Angel] Di Maria.
“After we found the goals and scored another one and so satisfied with the performance. But it’s only halfway and we have many minutes still to beat them and PSG is a team where anything can happen.”
It is only City’s second semi-final in their history and first under Guardiola.
And the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has warned his players that the job is not yet done.
“This club does not have much experience in the latter stages of this competition,” he said.
“We have to realise ourselves anything can happen.”
De Bruyne also spoke about what was said at half time and admitted the second-half showing was a vast improvement.
“Just play a little bit more with the ball,” the Belgian said.
“I think the first half we were too rushed. We wanted to go forward too quickly. That’s not the way we’re set up as a team. Second half we did really well. We tried to find the spaces more patiently.
“Obviously they’re a really tough team to play against and I think the progression we made was good.”