Sports

Ahead of Premier League title shoot-out, Pep Guardiola compares Man City’s battle with Klopp’s Liverpool to El Clasico

PEP GUARDIOLA says that ­Manchester City’s rivalry with Liverpool reminds him of the famous El Clasico battles from his days in Spain.

The Premier League’s top two have lifted four titles in a row between them.Ahead of Premier League title shoot-out, Pep Guardiola compares Man City’s battle with Klopp’s Liverpool to El Clasico 2That will be five on the spin after this season — with the North West rivals meeting in a potential title shoot-out at the ­Etihad on Sunday.

Man City boss Guardiola holds a 3-1 title lead over Liverpool chief Jurgen Klopp during their recent period of domination.

And Guardiola reckons the way the two clubs have gone at it over the past five years is similar to the way Barcelona and Real Madrid bossed the league in Spain.

He said: “I lived this situation in Barcelona. It was always Madrid, sometimes Atletico Madrid, of course.“But normally Barca and Madrid. Here it’s always five or six teams but the last five years it was two.

“This is the reality in the Premier League, it shows the consistency of both teams and the structures of both.

“What is sure is that Liverpool and Manchester City in recent years, we raised the bar, raised the targets that the Premier League had before.

“We pushed each other a lot and the other teams realised they had to push more to chase us.“In the last five years, one year we were a little bit down, last season they had injuries and United was there.

“But both teams in the last half decade we were there, both teams, fighting with each other.”

City lead Liverpool by just a point while third-placed Chelsea are a further THIRTEEN adrift.

But at one stage in January, City had opened up a 14-point gap over the Reds and many people considered the title race to be over.Guardiola said that never told the full story as Klopp’s men had two games in hand at the time.

He said: “Fourteen points was fake, you were wrong. They had two more games in hand. Fake.

“When it was 14 points I couldn’t believe it myself as I knew what opponent we were going to face.

“One of the best teams in decades in this country and in Europe. The reality is it’s one point right now, we could be one up or two down, this is the reality.“It’s an honour to be there, to fight with them and try to beat them and win the Premier League.”

CITY’S DROPPED POINTS

City have dropped points against ­Tottenham, Southampton and Crystal ­Palace in the last couple of months to give Liverpool renewed hope.

But Guardiola has no concerns about the way his team have performed during the recent weeks of their title defence. He said: “I look at the games we dropped points — Crystal Palace and Southampton — and we were brilliant. More than brilliant.

“We were not effective or clinical but we were brilliant.

“We won at Southampton in the FA Cup 4-1 and we were miles worse than the game we dropped points.“That’s football, it’s unpredictable. But the chances we created in both those games, we were amazing.”

City defender John Stones suggested the title will not be decided by the result on Sunday.But Guardiola knows the eyes of the world will be on the Etihad.

He said: “I’m pretty sure everyone will be watching because it’s the two teams at the top of the league, trying to win the Premier League.”

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Nana Kay

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