Pep Guardiola understood how this might go. He knew that things were different this year, that the resumption of the UEFA Champions League in an accelerated format, going from two-legged ties to straight knockout games, had already yielded surprises. Paris Saint-Germain’s injury-time comeback against Atalanta. RB Leipzig’s upset of Atletico Madrid. Bayern Munich’s astonishing 8-2 pulverization of Barcelona.
“Every game is a final from now on,” the Catalan Manchester City manager declared ahead of Saturday’s quarterfinal vs. Lyon. “Playing just a single game makes it quite different. … In this situation there is no second chance. You either go through or go home.”
Guardiola would have also understood that with defending European and English champion Liverpool already out, as well as Spanish champion Real Madrid and Italian champion Juventus, there was added pressure and opportunity for City to finally break through in the Champions League, to finally deliver the trophy the club has grown obsessed with.