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Guardiola plays down hopes of clinching title in derby

AFP  |  Manchester 

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

Jose Mourinho's side visit the 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 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 prize for the first time in their history.

The draw for the 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

"We are going to have lunch together, dinner, some people are playing But the weather conditions are better than here - the forecast in 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."

- a 'welcome relief' -


City's victory at Stoke came courtesy of two goals from David Silva, whose season has been disrupted because of a family crisis, following the of his son in December.

The City forward has been returning to frequently to visit his family and admitted after his superb performance against Stoke that has been a welcome relief.

"I think when I play I forget everything, it's good for me to play," he said.

"I know in my private life it is not a very happy moment. But my son is fighting, you know, and I am very happy because he is getting stronger, getting better, so it is okay."

offered support to Silva, who has been given permission to miss the trip to spend time in

"David just explained his story, it puts everything into perspective for us," said the defender.

"It is a massive boost and relief to be able to play this game like we do. It gives us perspective and brings a moment of joy into our lives."

City, meanwhile, can look forward to a memorable finale to the season given their current form and dominance over the League although their demanding is clearly not in the mood to allow his players to relax.

"To motivate my players is really easy, we are not champions yet, and when we are, we must carry on, to focus on the next goals which is the quarter-finals," said Guardiola.

"There are always goals to pursue, statistics to overcome, and we will carry on and then work towards next season. There is always room for improvement and that is what we will do.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, March 13 2018. 09:45 IST