Pep Guardiola will try to take on Barcelona at their own game in Wednesday’s Champions League clash at Camp Nou.
The Catalan is trying to transform Manchester City’s playing style — introducing a high-pressing game to dominate possession and control the match.
It’s a tactic that was hugely successful in his four years as manager at the Blaugrana club, when he won four La Liga titles and two Champions League trophies, and has helped City to the top of the Premier League after eight games.
Barca’s style and personnel hasn’t altered much since he left the club in 2012 and Guardiola knows how dangerous they can be after his Bayern Munich side were beaten 3-0 in the Champions League semifinal second leg two seasons ago.
But the City boss said his side must believe in their new footballing philosophy, which saw them win their first 10 games of the season.
“I would like to defend well and attack well but to change the way you think, the way you believe in playing football, it’s impossible,” the City boss told a news conference. “The players aren’t going to believe me [if I do that].
“Of course you adjust many things because it’s a special team, how they play, build up, high pressing, they control all the departments and you have to adjust — and try to be ourselves as much as possible.”
City players have unhappy memories of facing Barca having met them in the last-16 of the Champions League in two of the last three seasons — losing all four of their encounters.
But they reached the semifinals last season under Manuel Pellegrini, before being narrowly beaten by Real Madrid, and Guardiola believes they are growing in confidence in Europe.
“[Manuel] is the first coach who was able to reach semifinals so a lot of credit to him to help those who came next,” he added.
“City were not in Europe for a long time, so you’re important in Europe when you’re there a long time, and that is our next target in the next years, to be there competing.
“I know what they are going to do tomorrow, what we’re going to try and we’ll see if we are able to do it.”
Guardiola also admitted it was nice to be back at his former home and is looking forward to facing his old club.
“It was one-and-a-half years ago that I first came back with Munich. It’s always special for me, I’ve spent a lot of time here, I grew up here, had my whole career here and was the trainer here,” he added. “It’s always special for me when I see people who I like to see.
“When you travel around, you remember places for the people you met and my family is here which is why I’m always happy.
“It’s a good test for us to play against the best team.”