"The talent cannot be stopped..." - Pep Guardiola and Riyad Mahrez pre PSG Press Conference
Pep Guardiola and Riyad Mahrez spoke to the press on a range of topics ahead of travelling to France in the showdown Champions League group stage clash between the last two runners up of European's elite competition. The City boss was asked about Lionel Messi, last season's semi-final ties, the quality of PSG, Gundogan's availability, and spoke in depth regarding City's defence.
Paris born Riyad Mahrez also touched on the quality of PSG's squad and last season's games, as well as Jack Grealish's impact and the blues' momentum going into the game.
Pep on facing Lionel Messi:
"It happened when I was in Bayern, normally is difficult to find one long career as a player at the same manager all his career. Played against Bayern and when I was here at City."
"It was a surprise for everyone [Messi leaving Barcelona], what happened happened. Everyone now accepts it. Long time ago you couldn't image but it happened. Life itself you never know what happens. Important is he'll be happy there in Paris."
"This type of player speaks for himself on the pitch. I don’t have to add anything else. We are fortunate to see him for 15 years. I don’t have to talk about him or describe him. I hope he plays tomorrow for the benefit of the game."
"Hopefully tomorrow he can play for the benefit of the game..."
Pep on Gabriel Jesus becoming a father:
"Congratulations! Important is he's in love, happy to be a father, congratulations. Happy for him, living a nice period in his life, in a good mood. When both take this decision they're convinced and start a family."
Pep spoke on PSG's quality:
"It was last season [we beat PSG]. They were a fantastic team and it was a tight game and now they have Messi. They are huge competitors. It’s a new game, it's the group stage, it’s different. We will see."
"I don't know [how to stop Mbappe, Neymar, Messi] this amount of quality, I don't know how to stop them. They're so good, the talent to control they are so difficult, You have to defend well without the ball, let them run when we have the ball."
"The games vs. PSG they were better first half in Paris, here we defend better than we expect, a lot of resilience, we punish them in the counter attack and did it well. They are a fantastic team."
"Marquinhos; a big fan of him, Hakimi and all midfield players, Paredes, Danilo, Verratti especially and the three players upfront can do whatever they want. Wide narrow, wide left, Messi can play right or middle, Mbappe wide or middle, they combine so well - the talent cannot be stopped. We have to do it as a team, be compact, help each other, know we are going to suffer. How you handle through the pain in those moments. They are so good these kind of teams, you have to be able to suffer 90 minutes."
Pep on City's defence and the season ahead:
"[John] Stones arrived late then got injured. He came back from International duty injured again. Ruben [Dias] and Laporte are playing well but he has to wait but he is ready and his time will come. He is training normally but the season is so long. I know he will be ready. Sometimes you have to wait because the others are playing good."
"It's a new season, a new challenge, I dont care you win or lose three games in a row. Important is we play a game three days ago and got confidence, but six days ago we drew with Southampton. Football is highs and lows."
"Football you have to do well with the ball, the most important thing is how many chances we concede during the game. This is good information to know how is the bite of the team. In general it's good. Still we can do better."
Pep gave a fitness update on Ilkay Gundogan:
"No [he's not available]. [Not] until [after] international break."
Riyad Mahrez on the match:
"It's just exciting, a great game. We all want to play great games against top teams. Very exciting to play against top teams, like against Leipzig. We try to impose our game and try to win."
"No not at all [two favourites for the Champions League], the squads okay top players but a lot of teams have top players. Just a group stage game we have to try to win and get three points."
"It's never easy in the Champions League group stage, good top start good, This game will be difficult too. It's away, have to keep going as we are"
"We have to play with personality, impose your game everywhere you go and that's why you're most likely to perform good."
And on PSG's quality:
"PSG has a very good team. More or less the same as last season, add Messi and a few others. They have stronger this season, bigger squad. It's going to be more or les the same game as last season, very tight. The best on the day will win."
"There's strength everywhere, front, behind. Ramos and the keeper. They're stronger than last season. They always had a good defence anyway but with Ramos the experience the new keeper is very good. The strength of the squad, they'll be better."
Mahrez touches on the semi-final last season:
"When you win big games like this [vs. PSG last season] you grow in confidence. We've improved a lot since this and from this. We go there confident knowing it's a tough team with top players and it'll be tight."
"We've improved a lot, defensively, we were very good last season, the solidity we showed made us stronger. Now we can see this, we concede few. That's what we improve."
"It's a different match, the same more or less the teams. A different match, last season was a semi final, no fans. You take it differently. Today is five months later, the beginning of the season. We're not thinking we'll beat them again."
"We think we beat them but it was tight, it'll be another tight game. We have to be focussed, strong, play with personality. We'll see how the game will finish. We're not thinking because we won last season we'll win this year."
"When you win big games like this [vs. PSG last season] you grow in confidence. We've improved a lot since this and from this. We go there confident knowing it's a tough team with top players and it'll be tight"
"It was a good day for the team and me as well. I scored but the way we played was the most important. Personality and character., We have to play like we play at Chelsea, every game, especially away. We have to play with personality, impose your game everywhere you go and that's why you're most likely to perform good."
Riyad Mahrez on Jack Grealish's impact:
"He's adapted to the way we play. I think the coach, the team are really helping him. He's playing in a lot of games, of course, which makes it easier to fit in. When I arrived, I didn’t play in all the games straight away..."
Written by: @coIgcra
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