By Andy Hampson, PA
Pep Guardiola has urged his Manchester City players to seize the moment and secure their place in the Champions League semi-finals.
The Premier League leaders are bidding to reach the last four for the first time since 2016 as they take a 2-1 advantage to Borussia Dortmund for the second leg of their quarter-final on Wednesday.
City have suffered defeat in the last 16 and in three successive quarter-finals since Guardiola took charge of the club.
The City boss said: “Now is the time to make another step. Everyone wants it. The players want to do it again because they were sad when we were not able to go to the semi-finals and this an opportunity to prove ourselves.
“But nobody’s going to give it to us. We have to win it, we have to do it. Just for being in this position nobody is going to say, ‘Just go to the semi-finals’. If we’re good we’re going to do it.”
City, who are bidding for an unprecedented quadruple this season, are clear favourites to progress but Guardiola is well aware of the nerves and pressures that can come into play at this stage of the competition.
For that, he has called on the leaders in his side to stand up and take responsibility.
He said: “Of course you have to control your emotions but sometimes you need emotions in a good way to win this type of game.
“I didn’t say anything special, we are not going to do anything special. We just go there to win the game, analyse and each one try to be a leader on the pitch.
“When the guy feels comfortable during the game to take responsibility, be more involved; for the guys who are more nervous or quiet, OK, do your job, play simple, be calm, and after the rest will come. After, maybe, five minutes you will be ready to make a good performance again.”
Simply avoiding defeat would be sufficient for City at Signal Iduna Park but Guardiola insists playing for a draw is not in his planning.
He said: “We are going to try to do what we have done this year many times – to win the game. We want to go there to try to win.
“What we have to do is score our goals, and to score goals we have to play our game, try to be effective up front and win the game.”
Erling Haaland could be key to Dortmund’s hopes but City have not made special plans to deal with the highly-rated 20-year-old.
“Of course we knew the quality before and we know it now, but we analysed Dortmund as a team, not just one player,” said Guardiola.
Ilkay Gundogan, who was a member of the Dortmund side that reached the 2013 final, is now one of Guardiola’s senior players.
The German midfielder feels City should have been involved in more semi-finals in recent years.
Speaking alongside Guardiola at a press conference, Gundogan said: “For me it is very important, not just because of the experience we had in the last few years of getting knocked out in that stage, but also because I have expectations for myself and for my team-mates and I know that we have a great team and are capable of going into the semi-finals.
“We should have been there earlier in the last few seasons already but we were lacking something.”
Gundogan has great memories of his time at Dortmund and feels it is a shame the game will be played behind closed doors, although in this instance that may work to City’s benefit.
The 30-year-old, who won a Bundesliga title with Dortmund, said: “Facing Borussia Dortmund knowing that there is no crowd feels like it’s a bit of a disadvantage for Borussia Dortmund.
“I played there for five years and I know how incredible the crowd is and the support is and how loud it can be also in that stadium.
“It is the same for us in our stadium. There is something missing in football at the moment and we can’t wait to have crowds back.”