Marco Verratti believes Paris Saint-Germain must “suffer” to defeat Manchester City but does not think they need a miracle in the Champions League semi-final.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side must overcome a 2-1 deficit in Tuesday’s second leg at the Etihad Stadium, having let a first-half lead slip in last week’s initial encounter.
City’s capacity to establish suffocating midfield control after half-time in the Parc des Princes, laying the foundation for goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez to turn the tie in their favour, was very much in keeping with the style espoused by their manager Pep Guardiola.
Verratti expects more of the same in Manchester, but feels PSG must not be cowed as they seek to reach back-to-back finals.
“Guardiola has always done this. He likes to have control of the ball, accelerate when he wants, calm things down when he wants. You have to focus on us,” the Italy midfielder told a pre-match news conference.
“We have a great team, a great coach. We must remain lucid, calm, we will have our opportunity.
“We did not lose 4-0 in the first leg, there is no need for a miracle. They have a small advantage, but we are there, we are close.
“It will go through small details. If City want to play with the ball, it will be up to us to play with our style of play tomorrow.”
How successfully PSG can implement that style might well rest on the fitness of Kylian Mbappe, who will be assessed having suffered a calf injury in the initial game.
In terms of City’s approach, Verratti is relishing taking on a collective of midfield playmakers for whom he has plenty of admiration.
“[De Bruyne], he’s a very strong player, he’s fantastic,” he said.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) May 3, 2021
“It’s a very strong collective since the arrival of Guardiola. We had a good game in the first leg, the second half was less good, but because there is a great team in front.
“Gundogan and Rodri are very good players who control the team. You have to take control of the middle to have a great game.”
As such, Verratti feels toil in pursuit of an against-the-odds victory is inevitable.
“We are not a team of aliens. We will suffer,” he added.
“We play in the Champions League, one of the best teams in the world. The times when we have to suffer, we have to suffer together.
“It’s sport, football, there are times to have chances and to score and others to suffer. Of course, it won’t be easy to go to the final. We knew it.
“We suffered against Bayern Munich, against Barcelona, but we are ready to do anything during tomorrow’s match.”