Paris St-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino says Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg with Manchester City will not be a personal battle with Pep Guardiola.
Pochettino oversaw victory against Guardiola’s City in the quarter-finals of the competition in 2019.
The two also had many battles in the Premier League before Spurs sacked Pochettino later that year.
“It’s not a personal battle, it’s not a personal game,” said Pochettino.
“It’s a battle between two very good teams.
“When you talk about Pep Guardiola, you are talking about one of the best coaches in the world, if not the best. I admire Pep not only for the titles but the legacy that he is building in football.”
‘We want to be in the elite of this competition’
Guardiola has led City into the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since he took charge in 2016.
He faces a tough challenge against last year’s runners-up, who have beaten Barcelona and defending champions Bayern Munich this season.
Guardiola believes facing PSG offers his side the best chance to prove they deserve to be among the best in Europe.
“We are not in the elite of this competition, but we want to be there for sure,” he said.
“The owners, when they took over, wanted to take us there in England first, and we are lucky to live where we are now.
“The Premier League is the most important one, but the Champions League is the nicest one, I think.”
Guardiola has fully fit squad to choose from while PSG are expected to have 37-goal striker Kylian Mbappe, who went off injured against Metz at the weekend, fit to start.
‘City have a 69% chance of progressing’
Simon Gleave, head of sports analysis, Nielsen’s Gracenote: “Manchester City remain favourites to lift their first Champions League trophy at the end of the season.
“The number one team on the Euro Club Index first need to get past the number five Paris St-Germain.
“City are estimated to have 69% of knocking out PSG and 44% chance of winning the Champions League.”
City’s long unbeaten away run – the stats
- Manchester City have lost two of their past five games in all competitions (W3), making it three losses in 33 fixtures; they won the other 30 games.
- City have won their past 17 away games in all competitions, surpassing the previous record for an English top-flight team of 11 they set themselves between May and November 2017.
- Guardiola’s team have won 11 of their past 16 away European matches (D3 L2), both defeats coming in England; the last away game they lost abroad was at Shakhtar Donetsk (1-2) on matchday six of the 2017-18 Champions League.
- PSG have won 19 of their past 25 matches in all competitions (D1 L5), scoring 59 goals and conceding 21.
- Kylian Mbappé has 19 goals in his past 14 PSG appearances, including a hat-trick and seven doubles, the most recent at Metz in LIgue 1 on Saturday.
- Pochettino and Guardiola have faced each other 18 times as managers, with the current PSG boss winning only three times, compared with 10 Guardiola victories.