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Actus de l'équipe première

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Guardiola enthused by derby contest

DERBY: Pep Guardiola responds to questions at the press conference before City's showdown with United.

DERBY: Pep Guardiola responds to questions at the press conference before City's showdown with United.

Fixtures like the Manchester derby, when the world sits up and takes notice, are the reason Pep Guardiola opted for a career in football management.

On Sunday, the Catalan will pit his wits against Jose Mourinho for the fourth time since the pair took the reins at City and United.

With the two sides sitting first and second in the Premier League Guardiola believes this game could eclipse the previous encounters and he admits he’s looking forward to tackling the challenge posed by a game of such significance.

“In theory, probably,” he said, when asked if this could be the most enthralling debut of his tenure.

“Because both managers and clubs have more time together. Both teams arrive really well to this match.

“I am a manager to play these kinds of games on the biggest stages. That’s why we are here.

“I will enjoy it, definitely. I am looking forward to arriving and playing. I love to be there, working out what we can do to beat them.

“After we shake hands.”

With City the Premier League’s great entertainers, United’s resolute defence – they’ve conceded the fewest goals this season – has been the platform for the second-placed Reds.

That strength is not lost on the Blues’ tactician who believes the likes of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, his team’s creative hub, will need to raise their game Old Trafford.

“When you face the big teams, it demands a little bit more,” Pep explained.

“They defend well. It is so complicated to score against them but the target is to try. They also create chances - Martial, Lingard, Rashford, Lukaku - they are dangerous players.

“When you play big teams, if you don’t give the best of yourself it is impossible to beat them.”

Meanwhile, the manager revealed he will travel across the city with no intention of playing for a draw, a result which has been suggested would be far more damaging for Mourinho’s men than it would his.

Winning and in particular, playing well and to his principles is the most important thing for the 46-year-old, who refutes the claim that Sunday’s showdown is a title decider.

“Winning, drawing or losing, we are not going to win or lose the Premier League,” he added.

“It’s an important game because you can win points but it’s the same for them. All we are thinking is how to play well and win the game.

“We have more than 70 points to play for so we are just thinking about the game, the recovery and then Swansea three days later.”

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