Pep Guardiola says Manchester City’s Champions League clash with Club Brugge is ‘much more important’ than this weekend’s upcoming Manchester derby.
City host the Belgian side at the Etihad tomorrow evening, knowing victory will move the club a huge step closer to securing qualification to the knockout stages.
Guardiola’s side currently have six points from their three fixtures, sitting a point behind Paris Saint-Germain and two clear of tomorrow’s opponents, who were beaten 5-1 in the reverse fixture in Belgium.
The clash is followed by a huge Premier League meeting with cross-town rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime, but Guardiola insists his side’s focus is on taking ‘an incredible step forward’ in this season’s Champions League.
“It’s much more important this game than the United game,” Guardiola told his pre-match press conference.
“This game would be an incredible step forward to qualify for the Champions League last 16 and in the Premier League there are many games, here just six with three left.
“Not much and they are decisive the third and fourth games. The most important games and we need to take it seriously.”
City head into tomorrow’s clash on the back of a shock home defeat to Crystal Palace last weekend, whilst the Premier League champions are without a goal in their past two fixtures following a Carabao Cup exit at West Ham.
Despite those results, however, Guardiola believes his side have been performing at an ‘incredible level’ and says he is content with the performance levels of City as the club look to ‘build something special’.
“I think we’re playing at an incredible level, the way we’re playing in the last month and a half – I’d say one of the best moments in the time we’ve been here.
“The way we’re playing, obviously results is different but the process and the way we’re playing is very good.
“Football is a game when you win or lose. What concerns me is the way we play. The defeat on Saturday was tough, we know the calendar and how demanding it is. But we know what we have done, we want to finish good before international break at United.
“Every season is tougher. More contenders, more well prepared top managers. Only my concern is our standards as a team – not success and titles. From there we build something special.”
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