Guardiola: "Liverpool are a constant pain in the butt"
Pep Guardiola views Liverpool as the only team who can challenge Man City's dominance and deny them both the Premier League and Champions League.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is pretty sure about which club is their biggest rival - Liverpool. The Reds have chased City in practically every season during the Spanish coach's time at the Etihad. In an interview with CBS after Tuesday's 0-5 win against Sporting Clube, Guardiola wryly acknowledged that Liverpool are one of the teams capable of ruining City's season. "The team which could knock us out of Europe? They are six points behind us in the Premier League. They’ve been our biggest rivals in the past few seasons and are always there – a pain in the ass, all the time! They are a fantastic team in Europe. Look at PSG, who played really well against Real Madrid, Inter, United and Liverpool," he said.
City's Champions League aspirations
For Guardiola, the biggest challenge of playing the Champions League is that it is not always the favourites or the best team who wins it. Using that as a base for his argument as to why City have never been crowned champions of Europe, after ending as runners-up to Chelsea in last year's final, he explained. "In last year's Champions League, we played 14 or 15 games, won 12, drew one and lost the final. Performing better than we did in last season's Champions League is impossible. People are saying, 'This year we have to win the Champions League'. We tried last season and the year before that. Every time we play, we are trying to win it," he continued.
Guardiola added that perhaps the biggest merit of his squad is that the players have not lost any ambition even though several of them are eyeing their fourth Premier League title. City have dominated domestic competitions during the past few years and won the treble in 2018/19. "After six campaigns together, the important thing is that the players still want to win everything. They are still fighting for each other. Just look at Raheem Sterling or Bernardo Silva".
Klopp, Pep's worst rival
Pep sees Liverpool as a "pain in the butt" because no other coach has given him as a many problems as Jürgen Klopp. The Catalan and German have faced each other a total of 22 times - in the Bundesliga Klassiker between Dortmund and Bayern as well as the gripping encounters between City and Liverpool.
In those 22 clashes, Klopp's team has come out on top nine times - a percentage which no other coach can match. City and Liverpool will meet in what could be a title-decider at the Etihad on 9 April. Both teams have nine wins each from those 22 meetings - figures which few other coaches come near when playing Guardiola's teams. It's worth taking a look at Klopp's record versus Pep compared to other coaches: Di Matteo (3 games: 2 draws, one defeat), Koeman (3 games: 2 draws, one defeat), Solskjaer (9 games: 4 wins, 1 draw, 4 defeats), Luis Enrique and Conte (both two win and two defeats).
Pep versus Mou
Guardiola has only faced one coach more times than his run-ins with Klopp. He has faced Jose Mourinho a total of 25 times between matches in England and the Clásicos between Real Madrid and Barça. Jürgen got the better of Pep in several DFB-Pokal ties and even eliminated City in the quarter finals of the Champions League in April 2018 (3-0 at Anfield, 1-2 at the Etihad) and scored one win over the City boss in the Premier League. But Guardiola has had the edge in the domestic league, with three titles compared to Klopp's one. With opposing styles and very different personalities, they are kryptonite for each other...