Pep Guardiola expects Tuesday’s clash with Paris St Germain to be Manchester City’s toughest test in their quest to win the Champions League.
The City manager has had far more trouble negotiating semi-finals than finals in his glittering career.
The Spaniard won the competition twice with Barcelona but went out at the last-four stage three times in succession when in charge at Bayern Munich.
The quarter-finals had been his limit in his first four seasons at the Etihad Stadium but he now stands on the brink of a return to the final after a fine display against PSG last week.
City produced a superb second-half fightback in the French capital to secure a 2-1 aggregate lead heading into the second leg of their semi-final.
Guardiola said: “In my experience the second leg of the semi-final is always the toughest game, more than the final. It’s not just in this club, at all the clubs I have been at.
“In these games you are not going to play 90 minutes like we played the second half in Paris. I would love it, but that is not going to happen.
“You have to understand that this will be a big battle, there are moments to suffer.
“But I am pretty sure we are going to react well, do what we have to do and impose ourselves.”
Guardiola has no intention of sitting back to protect his side’s advantage or adopting any other approach from the one which has served them so well this season.
City go into the game high in confidence having not only won in Paris but also claimed the Carabao Cup and moved within three points of the Premier League title in the past week.
He said: “We arrive in a good moment. I said to the guys, ‘Don’t think much to win this game’. It’s like we have done many times this season. It’s the same message as the last six or seven months.
“We approach this game like any other game, (albeit one) that we start with a small advantage. We have to play to win the game.
“So go out there and do what we’ve done this season, which means in the bad moments stay calm.
“Are we going to play how we want to play? That is what is going to be important. How quick we play, that’s what will be important.
“After that it belongs to the players, the desire to do something nice for us, something in their lives they will remember forever.
“They have to make a step forward and show they can win the game. They are going to do it. We are going to do it.”
One of PSG’s star players, striker Kylian Mbappe, is a fitness doubt but Guardiola is convinced he will feature.
He said: “He is going to play – and I am looking forward to him playing, for the football and the game.”
City defender John Stones is approaching the game positively.
He said: “It is a big occasion for us as players and as a club, a chance to get into a Champions League final.
“We have got to go into it where we left off. We are really confident and excited for the challenge ahead.”