Manchester City’s semi-final against Paris Saint Germain was already a mouth-watering prospect without two of the best young players in the world colliding in their own personal duel.
Phil Foden may be the younger of the two and is yet to achieve the things Kylian Mbappe has done for both club and country, but that did not stop him asking the France international if he was ready for battle when they meet in the last four of the Champions League.
The tweet, which was later deleted amid rumours it had been posted in mistake by a member of Foden’s support team rather than the player himself, was good natured and polite.
Nevertheless, Mbappe will undoubtedly want to accept such a public challenge from a younger opponent, regardless of who posted the tweet.
Even a lighthearted comment can create tension in a such a high stakes game, but having played a starring role in City’s win over Borussia Dortmund, this is the perfect stage for Foden to prove he belongs in the same elite tier as the PSG striker.
There is no reason for Foden to have an inferiority complex. He has excelled in every challenge set so far and City should also go into their second Champions League semi-final without fear.
“I am incredibly happy for this club, for this chairman and for the fans, everyone,” said a delighted Pep Guardiola, who had failed to get City beyond the quarter final before this.
“It is the second time in the semi-finals so it is not history in the club, but we start to build it.
“We were brilliant except the first 10 minutes where they were good and we struggled to be brave enough, we were scared of losing something. But when they scored, we were able to get back into the game, created chances and we took things back into our own hands. We played with personality
“We know how tough this competition is every single year. Everyone has quality and this Borussia Dortmund team has a lot of quality. I’ve said before that on a good day they are able to beat everyone, but it’s about staying in the game. It’s about attitude, it’s about personality, especially in this stage of the competition. We proved we are ready.”
Having lost so many times at the same stage of the competition, Guardiola knows his joy will be short lived. City are good enough to win the Champions League this season, but that does mean they will. PSG were beaten in the final last year and are a serious threat.
“No one wants to let this one go,” Guardiola continued. “I guess you should ask the Dortmund players if they felt the same.
“Everyone wants to succeed in the competition generally, that’s why the competition is even harder. Everyone wants to win, everyone wants to be successful, everyone wants to score goals.
“It’s just tough and [you have] to accept that it’s going to be tough, that is the first step. When you have the right attitude, a good mix of quality in your squad and the right idea, then your chances of being successful are always higher.
“We play the game to be successful. We want to be successful in every single game but that doesn’t guarantee that you will be successful.
And Guardiola was also full of praise for his young English forward after he scored City’s second goal of the game and ended Dortmund’s hopes of a comeback.
“He found me [when he scored], he ran past everyone and found me,” said Guardiola. “That’s for all the club, all the people that work so hard, to achieve what we have achieved so far.
“We need three wins to win the PL, we are in the semi-finals of the Champions League, we are in semi-finals of the FA Cup and the final of Carabao Cup. It is incredible what we have done.”