Guardiola solely focused on clinching league title
City boss says clash with Chelsea will have no bearing on Champions League final
Pep Guardiola: “Always I’ve said the Premier League is the most important title.” Photograph: Trenka Atilla/PA
City host Thomas Tuchel’s Blues in the Premier League knowing that a victory will secure their third Premier League title in four years.
The two teams will then meet again in European club football’s showpiece occasion in Istanbul on May 29th.
They also faced each other in the FA Cup semi-finals last month – with Chelsea winning on that occasion – but Guardiola insists this is not a connected trilogy of fixtures.
The City manager said: “If we play the final in one week, six days, it could be but after tomorrow we have 21-22 days, so many things can happen.
“We just focus. Of course it is the opponent we are going to face in the final but the Premier League is so important for itself, not thinking in any other competition.
“There is not one thought about the final of the Champions League because we don’t have the Premier League in our hands. I’m so cautious. I think if you don’t have it, you don’t talk about it.
“When we have the Premier League, hopefully tomorrow, then the focus will be on the final of the Champions League.
“I said to the players it’s nine or 10 months fighting for the Premier League and this is the first chance to win it. That is enough of an argument to be focused on that.”
City moved to the brink of the title with victory over Crystal Palace last Saturday. They could have been crowned champions on Sunday had second-placed Manchester United lost to Liverpool but that game was postponed after a fan protest.
Guardiola said: “Now it doesn’t depend on anyone else. If we win it is over. There is not one thought on what United are going to do. It is in our hands.”
The Champions League final will be a huge glamour occasion for the club and winning it could significantly raise City’s global profile. For Guardiola too, it would further cement his legacy as one of the all-time great managers after two previous successes with Barcelona.
The Spaniard, however, maintains winning the Premier League is always his prime focus.
“Always I’ve said the Premier League is the most important title,” he said.
“Financially for the club, qualification for the Champions League is the most important title, maybe, but there is no doubt what is the most important thing.
“Of course the Champions League is so special, it’s nice, but this one means consistency and many things.”
Tuchel has described Guardiola as a winning machine but the City boss refuses to take too much credit for his team’s successes.
He said: “The numbers speak for themselves, I cannot deny it. I don’t want to be humble in that. We won a lot of things, a lot of good numbers. But at the same time there’s a reason and Thomas knows perfectly.
“I’ve been at three amazing clubs, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here. They have an incredible structure, incredible support behind me and incredible players.
“This is the reason why, no more secrets. If I go to a team without this financial power or these incredible players I would not be a machine, a winner. He knows it, I know it, all the managers know it.”