Pep Guardiola feels Saturday’s Premier League meeting with Chelsea will have no bearing on Manchester City’s prospects in the Champions League final.
City host Thomas Tuchel’s side after both teams booked their place in the UEFA showpiece this week with impressive wins over Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.
All eyes will be on any perceived psychological advantage to be gained by either camp, but Guardiola thinks the 22 days remaining until the Champions League final in Istanbul on May 29 are key to this equation.
A victory would see City confirmed as Premier League champions for the third time in four seasons and this is foremost in their manager’s thoughts.
“First of all, congratulations to Chelsea for being in the final. They made a good performance against the king of this competition in Real Madrid,” Guardiola told a pre-match news conference on Friday.
“If we play the final in one week, six days, it could be [influential] but after tomorrow we have 21 days. Many things can happen. We just focus.
“The Premier League is so important for itself; we’re not thinking in any other competition.
“Of course, it is the opponent we are going to face in the final but we’re going to try and play with the players we decide to play, set up perfectly for the way they play and try to beat them.”
Chelsea beat a much-changed City line-up 1-0 in last month’s FA Cup semi-finals and it was put to Guardiola whether this weekend’s encounter might come to be considered the second instalment in a trilogy.
“There is not one thought about the final of the Champions League because we don’t have the Premier League in our hands,” he replied
“When we have the Premier League, hopefully tomorrow, then the focus will be on the final of the Champions League and everything will be related to the final.
“I’m so cautious, I think if you don’t have it, you don’t talk about it. Still we need points and we have to get them as soon as possible to celebrate it.”
Guardiola did seek to offer a carrot to those players aiming to force their way into Champions League starting line-up, however, effectively firing the starter’s pistol on that particular race.
Throughout their progress in the knockout rounds, City displayed a familiar formula, the combined playmaking talents of Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden forgoing the need for a conventional striker.
Even though this approach came up trumps against Borussia Monchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund and PSG, Guardiola suggested something different might be needed to tackle a Chelsea side in supreme form since Tuchel succeeded Frank Lampard in January.
“The way we’re going to play against Chelsea, and who we’re going to play, will not be the same,” he added.
“People can think guys who played against Borussia Dortmund or Monchengladbach are going to play the final but, right now, I don’t know.
“That’s why everybody has to be ready. The way Chelsea play is completely different to other opponents and we could play in a different way or not, with the same guys or not.
“I want everyone involved over the next two or three weeks to prepare for the final.”
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