Pep Guardiola has jokingly complained about the threat from Liverpool on multiple fronts in recent seasons and says this year’s Premier League title race is far from over.
The Citizens have a healthy nine-point lead over the Reds (albeit having played a game more) as they look to secure back-to-back titles. The Catalan coach, however, is wary as ever of the threat from the team he deems their biggest rivals.
“”[Our biggest threat?] Liverpool,” Guardiola told the press. “They are six points behind us, Liverpool are the bigger rivals in the past seasons, always there.
“They are a pain in the a**e all the time. They are a fantastic team in Europe. Just take a look at PSG today, they played really well against Madrid, look at Inter Milan or Liverpool or United.
“When you are the favourite, they don’t assure you in April or May. In a long competition like the Premier League, when you win it you are the best.
“In the Champions League our goal [focus] is the next minutes, the next game because it changes everything. In the Premier League no [it doesn’t] but in this competition it is like this.”
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have also achieved something that Guardiola is well aware his City team have yet to do, and which everyone expects of them. The Champions League, the big one, the elite trophy in European club football, remains elusive and, while it does, many will suggest that Man City are underperforming and failing to establish themselves as a top-tier club.
Something City haven’t done
Guardiola, however, has been keen to stress the fine margins at that level, where he does not have the luxury of a 38-game season for things to even themselves out. In the Champions League, a team might have to play a perfect campaign, and perhaps have a bit of luck along the way. There are more factors involved and it is a more volatile setting.
“Last season in the Champions League, we played 14 or 15 games, won 12, drew one and we lost the final. So better performances in the Champions League than last season is impossible,” said Guardiola.
“People say ‘this year we have to win the Champions League’, we tried last season, two seasons ago as well. Every time we play we try to do it.
“The important thing is after six seasons together, especially the last five still, right now, after players won everything, still they fight for each other, look at Raheem [Sterling], look at Bernardo [Silva].”