MANCHESTER, (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola conceded the Premier League title to Liverpool and believes no team in the world would be able to stay with the European champions this season.
Liverpool are well on course for a first league title in 30 years as they lead City by 16 points with a game in hand after winning 22 and drawing one of their 23 games.
City have won back-to-back titles with a combined 198 points, denying Liverpool last season despite Jurgen Klopp’s men posting 97 points – the third highest tally in top-flight English football history.
“Liverpool obviously will be champions of the Premier League, but they would be champions in Spain, champions in Italy, champions in Germany,” said Guardiola.
“They would be champions everywhere after 23 games, 22 victories, 1 draw.”
City have lost five league games this season, but Guardiola defended their record by pointing out it would still be good enough to mount a title challenge in Europe’s other top leagues.
“In the recent past when Chelsea won the league, the next season, they didn’t qualify for the Champions League, Leicester the same and Chelsea again the same. When we won the league we repeated the league,” added Guardiola.
“In Spain with the points we have we would be there, one or two points behind the leader, in Germany we would be there, one or two points behind the leader, in Italy as well.
“But Liverpool are just fantastic, phenomenal, overwhelming. So we have to accept it and learn from that.”
Guardiola won three league titles in a row at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but believes the mental strength to bounce back of his current squad is just as good as any he has coached before.
And City could still end the season with three trophies as they look to defend the FA Cup and League Cup and take on Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League next month.
“Honestly, it is one of the best I have ever handled or faced in my career for how they react in the bad moments,” he said.
“The numbers, the results, not just in this season, I think are good. Even in the previous seasons I think it was phenomenal. That is why I am so proud.”