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Guardiola: ‘If Neymar Had Stayed, Barcelona Would Have More Champions League Titles’

The Spanish manager declared himself an admirer of the Brazilian ahead of the Champions League semifinals.

Pep Guardiola is in pure form. The Manchester City boss was in full flow in the press room ahead of the Champions League semifinals. His team faces Neymar and Kylian Mbappé's PSG on Wednesday, but far from being intimidated by the scenario, the man from Santpedor enjoyed it.

"I've rarely been happier than I am now to travel with this team to Paris and try to do my best in the Champions League," he said at a press conference that left a bunch of headlines.

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"I remember when I saw videos of Neymar everywhere and thought he was the king of Santos," Guardiola said. "The players were dumbfounded. If Neymar had stayed at Barcelona, they would have won two or three more Champions League titles. (Lionel) Messi, (Luis) Suárez and Neymar were the best trio in the world. He went to Paris, which doesn't seem like a bad decision. I am an admirer of his."

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Guardiola also highlighted Mbappé and recalled his teacher Johan Cruyff to inspire his squad.

"I learned from Johan Cruyff, and when you come to this kind of match, the only thing you can't do is not enjoy it," Guardiola said. "You have to enjoy the game, enjoy the pressure, the responsibility. The great players enjoy these stages, and this is the reason why the best players win the Champions League: because they don't play it as if it were a friendly match."

This will be Manchester City's first semifinal since Guardiola arrived. The last one was in 2016, which it lost to Real Madrid, when the coach was still the Chilean Manuel Pellegrini.

"We are not in the elite of this competition, but we want to be there," Guardiola said. "When the owners arrived, they wanted us to get to Europe and now we are lucky to be where we are. I am incredibly happy to travel to Paris to try to win the game and then play against Crystal Palace and win one of those two games we need to be champions."

Manchester City will face PSG on Wednesday, April 27, at 3 p.m. ET. The match will be broadcast in the U.S. by CBSSN, TUDN USA, ZonaFutbol, TUDN.com, Paramount+ and TUDN App.

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