Manchester City are reaching the halfway point of a beastly quartet of fixtures – but Pep Guardiola has been here before. The Blues beat Atletico Madrid in midweek in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final, and before they go to Madrid next week they face Liverpool in a Premier League game of enormous importance before then taking on Jurgen Klopp’s team at Wembley next weekend for a place in the FA Cup final.
It is a defining fortnight across three competitions. But as intense as it may seem, Guardiola has been in an even bigger situation when his Barcelona side faced off against Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid four times in 16 days in the league, cup, and Champions League semi-final; Real ultimately won the cup but Barcelona would go on to win the two greatest competitions.
It was a ferocious set of games between two coaches and teams at the top of their game, not unlike the situation in England now with City and Liverpool. Guardiola is much happier to be in England where there is less external pressure than there would be in Spain or Germany, but just as he has learned from Klopp during his time in the Premier League he believes he is a better manager for having battled against Mourinho .
Readmore: Guardiola opens up on Klopp relationship ahead of Liverpool clash
Mourinho also knows a thing or two about coming out on top against Liverpool, having bested them on several occasions during his time in the Premier League. Guardiola will be looking to use everything he can to help City end this weekend on top of the table, and his experiences of him could nudge the Blues to where they want to be despite Liverpool’s quality.
“The atmosphere here is different. It is not comparable with Barcelona-Madrid. It’s not that City-Liverpool is better or worse, it’s just different – the way football is lived here and in Spain is completely different,” he said.
“I have to admit I am Barcelona. It’s part of my life – I was a ballboy, a teenager, and it has my heart. I’m sorry but that’s what it is, it is special for me – it’s my home and gave me the opportunity to be a football player and manager.
“I grew up there, all my education and the support to me and my family came from Barcelona and I can never be grateful enough to Barcelona. Then I lived an incredible four years as a manager that I will never forget and gave me an incredible experience. I would not change one second that I lived there.
“Even these four games against Atletico Madrid (and Liverpool) in a row, also when Manuel Pellegrini was there, it was fantastic. I have incredible memories. I always wish the best for Barcelona, it’s just different, and the rivalry with Jose was really good.
“I learned a lot for myself, I grew up as a manager, Jose pushed me to another level as a manager and pushed the team to another level. It’s quite similar here but different – from the outside it is more calm.”
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