Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has described Tottenham Hotspur as the “second-best team in Europe” ahead of their mouthwatering Premier League clash.
Spurs visit the English champions on Saturday evening with both sides looking to secure back-to-back league wins after triumphing in their opening fixtures.
City, seeking a third championship on the bounce this season, comfortably swept West Ham aside win a 5-0 win whilst Mauricio Pochettino’s side had to come from a goal behind in their 3-1 victory over newly-promoted Aston Villa.
This game marks the second league meeting between them following a pulsating Champions League quarter-final showdown which Spurs edged out on away goals after they were tied 4-4 on aggregate.
Since arriving in England on the back off three Bundesliga titles won at Bayern Munich, there have been a few teams to have pushed Guardiola’s City as much as Spurs, who reached their first European Cup final last season only to fall at Liverpool’s hands.
Despite that painful setback, Guardiola nevertheless feels Spurs are now contenders for the big prizes, and in discussing the upcoming showdown in Manchester referred to their runners-up status as proof they are heading in the right direction under Pochettino.
“We learnt how good they are on many occasions,” he told reporters.
“They’re the second-best team in Europe. Since I came here to England they’ve been a real contender every season. The first season they finished second… they’ve always been there or thereabouts.”
Pep vs. Poch: Five key things to know…
- This will be the 18th meeting between Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino.
- They faced each other nine times in Spain with Guardiola (Barcelona) winning five games to one against Pochettino (Espanyol).
- Since resuming their head-to-head in England the current Spurs boss has fared better.
- Pochettino has defeated Pep twice, but losing five times in return.
- However, one of those wins came in last season’s Champions League first-leg (1-0), which ultimately proved to be the difference.