You could sense the relief pouring out of both Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp after Manchester City and Liverpool drew 2-2 at the Etihad Stadium.
It was thrilling, exhausting, and complete.
You could also sense the annoyance that they’d have to do it again in one week when the world’s two best teams meet up in the FA Cup semifinal.
“Now we have to travel to Madrid, then six days — again — against them,” Guardiola chuckled at NBC’s pitchside desk with Rebecca Lowe, Tim Howard, Robbie Mustoe, and Robbie Earle.
“They are so annoying, honestly. We had the feeling that if we lost, we weren’t going to win [the title] … I had the feeling that we left them alive [in the first half] but winning or losing, there’s still seven games left. We have to win them all to reach our goals.”
Guardiola had so much praise for his team, and how couldn’t he?
City could’ve led 4-1 at halftime and put away the Premier League title with seven games to spare (essentially). But it also could’ve lost to a remarkable Liverpool team and walked away with its PL title defense in serious doubt.
[ MORE: An enthusiastic JPW live from the Etihad ]
So, he chooses compliments, both to his players:
— “I told them I’m going to kill you if you don’t go out with your heads up,” Guardiola said with a laugh. “How could I say anything wrong to these players, the way they played? The way they performed made proud our people. To fans of football, who watched this game, what else (could you want)?”
and to his counterpart:
— “First, Jurgen is the best. Second he’s an inspiration for so many reasons. Both I think we try to do this beautiful show with the better players. The last four to five years it’s been an incredible battle. They are good.”
Guardiola said that Man City and Liverpool “did everything” to win and did it pretty well.
And he heaped praise on the USMNT for qualifying to the 2022 World Cup and admitted he just wanted to plop down on the couch at home, exhale, and watch the Masters.Follow @NicholasMendola