Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola insisted that the possibility of winning the Premier League title through a victory against Manchester United next week should not distract Manchester City from their Champions League quarter-final game at Liverpool.
City could be crowned champions in the Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium next Saturday having maintained their 16-point lead over Jose Mourinho’s team with a 3-0 win at Everton.
However, Guardiola insisted that City’s Wednesday’s visit to Anfield is the priority despite their dream scenario, and that his strong team selection at Goodison Park was, Guardiola admitted, designed with Liverpool in mind.
“We were a long time without being together and I didn’t want to play with seven, eight or nine players who are going to play on Wednesday without four weeks playing together,” the former FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager said.
“We needed to play together to find our pace and our rhythm for two massive games against Liverpool. I understand people are going to talk about United but now all the decisions are about Liverpool. We have to focus on the Champions League, we have United in the middle but for the lineup we have to think about the Champions League.”
“We are closer than ever,” he added. “We have one game to win and, if we are not able to win [against United], we have six more chances. We are so, so close and I am so happy with the performance.”
City were outstanding in the first half at Goodison and had been given applause after the final whistle by Everton fans.
“Maybe that’s because we are going to play against Liverpool,” Guardiola joked at the thought of City facing the Toffees’ bitter neighbouring rivals.
“I didn’t know it but it is a great satisfaction that they give credit to what the players have done. First it is for our fans but if the people who love football enjoy how we play, then that is a great satisfaction. Last season I applauded them after the 4-0. This season they applauded us, so thank you very much.”