Man City boss Pep Guardiola has conceded that Liverpool over the past two seasons have been the toughest opponent he has ever faced.
The two Premier League giants have battled for the title over the last two years, with the Merseyside giants wrestling the crown away from City this past campaign as they finished 18 points clear.
Last year, City had to go on an incredible winning streak to fend Jurgen Klopp’s men off, and now Guardiola has to figure out how to leapfrog them next season while Liverpool will look to add to their league title, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup that they’ve won over the past year or so.
To his credit, Guardiola has offered a candid and detailed answer as to why the Reds are the toughest opponent that he has ever faced, and the praise he lavishes on Man City’s main domestic rivals will no doubt be well received and respected by those in Liverpool who are deserving of it all after a stunning season this past year.
“It dominates all the records. If you allow them to dominate you, they will cage you in the area and you don’t come out. When you dominate them, they run finding spaces like no one else does.
“They are very fast at going back. They are very strong in terms of strategy. Their players are mentally very strong. It’s the rival that I’ve had to think more about how to beat them.
“If you ask me which team I’ve had more difficulty to decipher and deal with, that’s Liverpool. The first few years when I arrive to England, Liverpool was a little smaller than it is now and Real Madrid was much stronger. Now, this Liverpool is the toughest that I’ve encountered in my career as coach.”
Time will tell if Guardiola finds the answers over the summer and next season to ensure that Liverpool don’t go on to dominate in the coming years, while there will be challenges elsewhere too with Chelsea and Man Utd pushing to get into the mix.
For now though, it’s Liverpool who have set the bar even higher and Guardiola has shown his class by acknowledging that and giving credit where it’s due.