Pep Guardiola has dismissed suggestions Manchester City’s early qualification in the Champions League has given his team an advantage ahead of the first Manchester derby of the season.
Guardiola has the luxury of resting key players against Marseille on Wednesday with City already destined to finish top of Group C.
Manchester United, meanwhile, need at least a point when they travel to RB Leipzig, who drew 3-3 with Bayern Munich in Bundesliga action on Saturday, to be sure of qualifying from Group H.
It means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is likely to field a full strength team in Germany on Tuesday but Guardiola still believes United will be fresh when the two teams meet at Old Trafford on Saturday.
“I’m pretty sure it’s a derby and we will focus and commit and this means the players are not tired, completely the opposite,” said Guardiola.
United won three of the four derbies last season, including a 2-0 victory on March 8 — the last game at Old Trafford to host fans before the coronavirus lockdown. After a difficult start to the season, City have started to find form and sit sixth in the table, six points behind leaders Tottenham Hotspur with a game in hand, prompting Guardiola to send a warning to his opposite number Solskjaer.
“We are in a good moment right now, I would say,” he said. “We are better than one month ago but that is normal. Without preparation, without time, it’s normal what happened.
“What’s important is that we are not far away from the top of the league and already qualified for the next round [of the Champions League]. This is important. Now we want to continue being there.”