The Championship side trail by one goal after Sergio Agüero’s injury-time winner two weeks ago – but Johnson is adamant his players will not relinquish their plan to attack from the outset.
“We don’t want to be brave losers, we want to compete to win,” the Bristol City manager said. “It’s up to the players to be focused and tactically aware, and who knows what will happen if we can show the same quality as we have shown in the previous rounds?
“We have to make sure we’re really bold. If you’re going to deliver a corner, do it like you mean it. I’d rather fail bold than fail timid. We know we have to score. I hope Pep picks his absolute best team and we can give them a right go. I’m not sure you could go and play an under-23 side against us at the moment and I think he’ll know that.”
After the first leg, when Bristol City took the lead with a penalty from the academy graduate Bobby Reid before losing 2-1, Johnson and his coaching staff spent half an hour speaking with Pep Guardiola, Txiki Begiristain, the director of football, and Ferran Soriano, the chief executive officer. Johnson has established a working relationship with the Premier League leaders, predominantly through Brian Marwood, the City Football Group executive whom Johnson met while a trainee at Arsenal, and is hopeful the link may come to fruition “at some point in the future with a player or two”.
The 36-year-old said: “The link is not just about players but trusting each other, sharing information. That could be recruitment information or training ground information. We’re trying to build one here and some of the details they’ve got there are world class so it’s anything we can take on that front. He [Guardiola] was open and approachable and that was great. My staff were buzzing. We fired in questions and got some really interesting answers. We’ve got some more lined up. We were able to throw things around and ask questions about our players and our situation. I don’t know him well enough to know if he was trying to steal our secrets.
“Ferran Soriano is a huge player in the game and has a very good book actually, which I remember reading a few years ago, about the recruitment policies at Barcelona and how they worked. It’s good to be mixing in these circles. It only makes the desire to get to the Premier League even stronger.”
Johnson will give a fitness test to the defender Nathan Baker, who has a rolled ankle, while the goalkeeper Frankie Fielding is expected to miss out with a groin injury. The former Manchester United goalkeeper Luke Steele is in line to deputise again.
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