06 Mar Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola plays down comparisons with Barcelona
Pep Guardiola has dismissed claims his Manchester City side are now at the level of Barcelona.
City are now regarded as Champions League favourites in many quarters having enjoyed an outstanding season to date.
City won the Carabao Cup last month and are now within four wins of claiming the Premier League title having opened up a 16-point lead at the top.
They should also secure a place in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday as they go into the second leg of their last-16 tie against Basel holding a 4-0 aggregate lead.
But asked if his side were now a match for his former club Barcelona, City boss Guardiola said: “No, because it is completely different. Their players won a lot in the past, we are new here.
“Now we can say we won one title but it is not good for us comparing with that team. They dominated the last decade – 15-20 years with different managers, different players. Every season they won a lot of things.
“We won just the first title. To think about joining these kind of teams you have to be there a long time. That means many years.”
City may have a commanding lead over Basel but Guardiola will not accept any drop in intensity during the return clash at the Etihad Stadium.
He said: “We start again from zero. We have to be focused not to make a mistake – just be focused on what we have to do, offensively and defensively, to control the game and go through. That is the target.
“Champions League games are something special and you have to be focused. Of course we are delighted with the result we have done but in football everything can happen.”
Guardiola held his pre-match press conference on the same day that English referees chief Mike Riley visited the club to discuss City’s recent complaints about tackles.
City wrote to Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the body responsible for refereeing in England, recently after a spate of tackles on players they felt were not sufficiently punished.
Guardiola was vociferous in his complaints but he himself did not attend the meeting between Riley and City director of football Txiki Begiristain.
He said: “I don’t know which issues they talked about. I will speak with Txiki. He will tell me how the meeting went.
“But when I spoke about the tackles it was not just about Manchester City players, it was for football. I understand the physicality of the game here in England, I accept that, but there are tackles and there are violent actions.”