Manchester City will host their local rival Manchester United at the Etihad on Saturday, April 7th, in a matchup that is expected to mark the coronation of Pep Guardiola’s squad as Premier League champions. The fact that old nemesis José Mourinho will be present for the occasion just adds another layer of spice to the proceedings.
During his press conference at the most recent match with Everton, however, Guardiola emphatically stated that the Manchester derby - with all its implications - will be taking a back seat in his mind to the two titanic matches against Liverpool in the Champions League quarterfinals that will bookend the meeting with Manchester United.
“For the line-up [against United] we have to think about the Champions League,” stated the City manager. ”We are going to adapt in the game against United.
”I am a Barcelona fan,” Guardiola added. “If Real Madrid come and we are able to win the league it is special but it is not important.”
“I understand the people are talking about United now but all the decisions I am going to take is thinking about Liverpool, the game before United and after United, so that is what it is,” he emphasized.
Not a lot of room for interpretation there, nor is there much that is surprising in Guardiola’s pragmatic assessment. The league title going to City is a fait accompli at this point, and though the fans at the Etihad will be desperate for the opportunity to rub their neighbors’ faces in City’s success next weekend, Guardiola knows that the matches against Liverpool will likely be much more taxing mentally and physically - not too mention potentially much more rewarding.