Paris Saint-Germain boss Unai Emery insists he has not been told he must beat Real Madrid in the Champions League if he wants to keep his job.
The Ligue 1 leaders face the tournament’s back-to-back winners in arguably the most tantalising of the last-16 ties, which begin next month.
Emery, twice a Europa League winner with Sevilla, was seen as the ideal coach to guide PSG to their first Champions League trophy when he was appointed in 2016, but their remarkable 6-5 aggregate defeat to Barcelona last season – coupled with Monaco’s Ligue 1 triumph – led to speculation over his future.
PSG have a nine-point lead at the top of the table this season and marched into the knockout phase in Europe in impressive style, winning five games and scoring 25 goals, but rumours persist that Emery’s future depends on at least reaching the final.
However, the 46-year-old maintains he is not feeling any such pressure ahead of the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on February 14.
“Nobody has told me that, if I don’t win, I won’t continue,” he told Marca. “I live in the present.
“I have played games, in their own context, as important as this one, although without the media hype of Real-PSG.
“I’m always asked if I feel pressure but it’s something that never concerns me. I speak of a responsibility to prepare ourselves in the best way we can for these two matches.
“We’ll be at the centre of world football. I’m looking forward to the game, to be able to show PSG’s strength. I’m eager to play it, to enjoy it, and to win it.”
Emery believes the meeting with Zinedine Zidane’s side will serve as an important marker in PSG’s quest to become the very best team in the world.
“Real Madrid have won 12 Champions Leagues; Barca, five; AC Milan, seven, although now they’ve fallen away. PSG are a new team, born in 1970 from a fusion of two clubs,” he said.
“The new owners have created a new entity, but with an economic-sporting project, not just economic.
“This club wants to be closer and closer to the greats of Europe, to equal them… and then overtake them.
“Knockouts like this one against Madrid are the confirmation that we can take this step. Beating Madrid is an opportunity to grow. That’s how I see it.”