sport news Pep Guardiola: Manchester City can reach the Champions League final if they ...

There was a striking moment inside Schalke's Veltins-Arena a little over two years ago. It was nearing midnight in Gelsenkirchen and Manchester City's players looked shattered as they filed out on to the team coach.

Their manager, Pep Guardiola, collapsed into the arms of his chairman and sporting director, embracing Khaldoon Al Mubarak and Txiki Begiristain for some time. The evening had taken a lot out of City and their stressed boss on the touchline.

They had gone ahead that night but conceded two soft penalties in the space of seven minutes. Nicolas Otamendi was then sent off before a stunning late rally meant they headed home having won 3-2.

A little over two years ago Manchester City scraped past Schalke 3-2 in a European first leg

A little over two years ago Manchester City scraped past Schalke 3-2 in a European first leg

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They gave away two poor penalties in succession to let the German side back into the match

They gave away two poor penalties in succession to let the German side back into the match

It felt a big deal, and certainly dramatic, yet that was only in the last 16 and against a team they walloped 7-0 in the second leg. Schalke flirted with relegation from the Bundesliga that season.

There is absolutely no way City should have arrived in the final five minutes of the first leg behind, reliant on individual genius to bail them out. Schalke were not very good.

But that was City in Europe. They were making even the simplest of tasks appear trying and the frenzied seven minutes — where Guardiola watched his mentally frazzled defence fall to pieces — was indicative of why they were not progressing into the proper latter stages. See Lyon last August for further evidence.

It is why the past month, regardless of what happens in Tuesday night's tantalising clash with Paris Saint-Germain, serves as tangible growth for Guardiola. Why he dealt with Monday's build-up to this semi-final second leg with exuberance. Why he is no longer referring to City as the kids of this competition.

They came from a goal down to beat PSG last Wednesday after performing the same trick in Dortmund in the previous round. PSG had outplayed them in the opening 45 minutes but here City have two away goals in their pocket.

Guardiola has witnessed reactions from his squad, and while accepting that Neymar and Kylian Mbappe can take games away from anyone, does not expect brittle minds to be their undoing this evening.

Pep Guardiola's City side routinely made simple tasks look difficult in the Champions League

Pep Guardiola's City side routinely made simple tasks look difficult in the Champions

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