Mauricio Pochettino was the man in charge of Pep Guardiola’s most agonizing moment as manager of Manchester City. Their rivalry has resurfaced two years later, with both managers looking to make history with their respective teams, who are desperate for their first-ever Champions League success. Read more about the Manchester City v PSG coaches rivalry below.
City has the lead after a 2-1 win away to PSG in the first leg of the semi-final, but memories of Tottenham’s dramatic quarter-final triumph in 2019 will serve as a stark reminder of why Guardiola’s players will take little for granted before the very last kick of the season.
Pochettino and Spurs players bounced on the Etihad Stadium pitch two years ago, though City slumped back to the locker room in shock after the north London club’s astonishing away goals rule triumph.
The inhuman overturning of Raheem Sterling’s injury-time penalty for offside preceded a Fernando Llorente goal that seemed to go in off his arm but was not noticed by VAR as City went from delirium to misery.
“It’s the past – different teams, different moments,” Guardiola said, attempting to downplay the importance of a departure that was the most difficult chapter in a recent tale of European underachievement.
“It’s a part of our experiences from our time here. There are high points and low points in our professions and lives. We gave an outstanding result that day, and in that event, we were unable to proceed. Now we’re going to try to make it to the final.”
Pochettino considers the season’s run to the final to be the pinnacle of his managerial career. Though he bloodied Guardiola’s nose and amassed enough cachet to eventually secure his chance at Parc des Princes. The Argentine has yet to win a major piece of silverware as a mentor, including the recent Trophee des Champions in France.
Pochettino and Guardiola will face each other. It will be as equals for the first time in their 27-year rivalry as players and managers. With players like Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Angel di Maria on his team, Pochettino can no longer think of himself as an underdog.
Pochettino watched his opposite number’s press conference ahead of their next confrontation. He repeated his words as if to demonstrate that they are all competing on the same level.
“When I get to these points, I’m calmer than I was before. When asked if he had any doubts, Guardiola said, “I want to enjoy it.”
“I’m so relaxed,” Pochettino replied. “I’m having fun doing it.”
In the past, they were not on the same playing field.
Guardiola’s need for vengeance is not high on his goal list. He attempts to lead City to their first-ever Champions League final. But defeating a foe who has previously harmed his team will make the trip to Istanbul that much sweeter.