Paris St Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino said his Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola is the best coach in the world as they prepare to renew their rivalry in the Champions League semifinals on Wednesday.
The pair have locked horns before, both on the pitch and in the dugout, lining up against each other in their playing days for city rivals Barcelona and Espanyol before going on to manage their respective clubs.
They were also in opposition in the Premier League during Pochettino's five years at Tottenham Hotspur. The Argentine took Spurs to the Champions League final two years ago, knocking Guardiola's City out in the quarterfinals.
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"For me, he is the best," Pochettino, who replaced Thomas Tuchel as PSG boss midway through the season, told British media.
"I admire him and think he is doing a fantastic job. He is an amazing coach, always thinking of different strategies and game-plans. I love to challenge him and the teams he prepared.
"Not only the best manager. The club is important, too. A club that trusts you to build a team and provides you with all the tools."
Pochettino said his side's loss to Bayern Munich in last season's Champions League final would give the team added motivation this time around.
"We now have the experience but we need to go step by step. Now, we have to beat Manchester City and it is going to be really, really tough."
- PSG keeps its feet on the ground ahead of City clash, says Pochettino -
Although Paris St Germain has knocked out Barcelona and defending champion Bayern Munich, coach Pochettino said his team would keep its feet on the ground when it faces Manchester City.
With all his best players at his disposal after Marquinhos and Marco Verratti made their return after missing most of the quarter-final clash against Bayern, PSG enter the tie full of confidence, but also with caution.
"I think City are one of the greatest teams in the world with the best coach and it will be as tough as against Bayern at least," Pochettino told a news conference on Tuesday.
"Tougher? We'll see. We're confident but despite all the theories the most important things will be the 180 minutes on the pitch," he added.
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PSG, one of the teams which declined to take part in the failed Super League, faces a club which was one of the founding members of the project but none of that will matter at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday.
"For me it's a battle between two big clubs, PSG and City," said Pochettino, who added he had 'nothing' to take from 2019, when he led Tottenham Hotspur past City in the quarterfinals.
PSG had a reputation of chokers after memorable meltdowns in recent years, but the club is now in the semifinal for the second year in a row, having also reached the final against Bayern last year.
"The club has grown, we are now among the top four, five or six teams across the leagues," said Neymar, who despite not scoring produced a sterling performance in the return leg against Bayern.
"PSG now get the respect they deserve. We have all the qualities to put hour hands on the trophy," he added.
Neymar added that he was 'the happiest' at PSG since he joined the club in 2017 from Barcelona.