Guardiola says Brugge match ‘more important’ than Manchester derby

London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola says Manchester City’s Champions League clash with Club Brugge on Wednesday is “much more important” than this weekend’s Manchester derby.

City are second in Group A, one point behind Paris Saint-Germain after three games and two points clear of the Belgian side ahead of their game at the Etihad Stadium.

Last season’s beaten Champions League finalists were 5-1 winners when the sides met in Belgium last month but Guardiola is not taking anything for granted ahead of the return fixture.

“I think this game is much more important than the United game,” said the City boss, whose team lost 2-0 to Crystal Palace on Saturday, days after crashing out of the League Cup.

“This gives us an incredible chance to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League. In the Premier League there are many games, in the Champions League just six, and there are not many left.

“Games three and four are the most important. I’m pretty sure they will adjust things to punish us. We have to adjust to get better. It will be a completely different game.”

Guardiola remains happy with his team’s performances in recent weeks despite losing on penalties to West Ham in the League Cup and the home defeat by Palace.

“The defeat on Saturday was tough,” he said. “We know the calendar and how demanding it is. I think we are playing at an incredible level.

“The way we are playing in the last month and a half — I would say (is) one of the best moments in the time we have been here.”

“Every season is tougher,” he added. “More contenders, more well-prepared, top managers. Only my concern was where were our standards as a team — not success and titles.”

City are currently third in the Premier League, five points behind leaders Chelsea and two behind Liverpool.

However, defeat to United on Saturday would see their Manchester rivals move level on points with the English champions despite a poor run of results in recent months that has put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job as boss at Old Trafford in peril.

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