Guardiola plays down hopes of clinching title in derby

Manchester: Pep Guardiola tried to play down growing excitement among Manchester City supporters over the possibility of winning the Premier League title when they face bitter rivals United in the derby early next month.

Jose Mourinho’s side visit the Etihad Stadium on April 7 for a game which could see City make mathematically certain of being crowned champions following their 2-0 victory at Stoke yesterday.

First, City must win their visit to mid-table Everton but, should they do so, Guardiola will win his first league title in English football with victory over his old rival Mourinho at the Etihad.

“Everybody is always asking this question,” said Guardiola. “But the important thing is on March 12, we have 81 points, that is a lot of points.

“We want to be champions. We need three wins, but we are able to do it with two (if City beat United).

“But before and after United, we have the (Champions League) quarter-finals, and at the moment that is the most important thing to focus on.

“I understand for the fans, okay, but the important thing is to be champions. When and where it doesn’t matter.”

The in-form English team are also in with a strong chance of winning Europe’s premier prize for the first time in their history.

The draw for the Champions League last eight takes place on Friday and Guardiola will watch it live, along with his first-team squad, at their warm weather training camp in Abu Dhabi, where City flew immediately following the Stoke win.

City’s shock exit from the FA Cup, at the hands of third-tier Wigan, leaves them without a game until the clash with Everton on the final day of the month.

“We are going to be together and make three training sessions in five days,” said the City manager.

“We are going to have lunch together, dinner, some people are playing golf. But the weather conditions are better than here – the forecast in Manchester is rain, rain, rain!

“So we are going to go there and do the training we should be doing here. Last season we were there and it was good and that’s why we’re going to the airport now.”

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