Pep Guardiola says Manchester City’s victory over record 13-time Champions League winners Real Madrid doesn’t make them the favourites and insists “everything can happen”.
City face Lyon, who finished seventh in Ligue 1 last season, in the quarter-finals in Lisbon as they aim to win the European trophy for the first time in the club’s history.
Both Paris St-Germain and RB Leipzig have already secured their places in the last-four with neither club winning the Champions League before, increasing the chances that there could be a new name on the trophy.
“Of course it was so important to beat the kings of this competition, but when you play this competition – just one game, everything can happen,” Guardiola said ahead of Saturday’s clash.
“I think in this competition there are no favourites.”
A semi-final clash with either Barcelona or Bayern Munich will be City’s reward if they can get past the French side but Guardiola believes that the mini-tournament format gives a huge opportunity for a new club to succeed.
“The elite clubs will always be there – Barcelona, Madrid, Bayern Munich, all the big clubs in England and France always will be there,” he added.
“But we need this kind of competition and for just one game, everything can happen. Absolutely everything can happen.
“It’s difficult to beat the big teams away from home but in one game, everything can happen. And this is why we want to try.”
Despite the openness of the tournament, Guardiola insists that he is not under any extra pressure to deliver the trophy that the club is desperate to win.
“Every year we have the same question – the pressure is always there and we will try to do our best like the other teams,” he said.
“We saw how tight it was in the last two games, Atalanta and PSG and Atletico against Leipzig, so tomorrow will be no exception.
“It’s a final so it’s one-off game. We’ll try to avoid mistakes which will punish us.”
City have been in a secure bubble in a luxury hotel just outside Lisbon for the past five days as they get ready to for Lyon, who knocked out Juventus in the previous round.
Preparations have been similar to those used by national teams ahead of the World Cup and Guardiola admits it has been an unusual experience.
“It’s different because when you play normally you play the first game with one eye on the second leg,” he said.
“In England, when you play in the FA Cup or the Carabao Cup it is just one game. Every game is a final.
“Our players are used to these games. There is no second chance. You are in or you’re out. So we will either go back to Manchester or we can stay in Lisbon for at least four more days. That’s what it is and it means our approach will be completely different.”
City’s focus has been on Europe since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down football with the Premier League title race conceded just after the New Year.
Guardiola has challenged his players to be brave against the French side that beat City home and away a season ago.
“We have looked at Lyon and tried to discover their secrets and now is the time to be ourselves,” the Catalan said.
“I want to see my team show who they are. I want them to do everything they always try to do from in their soul and in their minds.
“After that, the football will dictate whether we deserve it or not. It’s as simple as that.”