Guardiola focused on Liverpool in UCL, not Manchester derby

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Pep Guardiola respects Liverpool to the end of the earth, but the Manchester City mastermind will undoubtedly have a plan to stop what he’s dubbed the Reds’ “almost unstoppable” trio of attackers — Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino — when the two sides meet in the quarterfinals of the Champions League on Wednesday.

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“The way Liverpool play is so complicated for us,” Guardiola said following Saturday’s 3-1 win over Everton. “We know that. They are so quick, they are so good and it is tough. But it is the quarterfinals of the Champions League so we cannot expect, at that level, that something is going to be easy.

Guardiola has placed such a premium on reaching the semifinals, in fact, that he’s revealed he’s likely to forego fielding a full-strength squad for next Saturday’s Manchester derby (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com) in order to do so.

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Even with the Premier League title ready to be clinched — all Man City need is a win over second-place Manchester United to be crowned champions —  Guardiola top priority is securing a positive result in the first leg at Anfield, and finishing the job at the Etihad Stadium six days later — quotes from Sky Sports:

“We are closer than ever. We have one game to win. If we are not able to win, we have six more chances. We are so, so close and so happy with the performance.

“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. That is what it is.”

Oh, how the tables have turned on one Mr. Jose Mourinho, who just last month said something almost identical about Liverpool, Man United’s other bitter rivals.