Pep Guardiola speaks on rivalry with Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp
But last week’s exchange, when the Manchester City manager accused Liverpool’s Sadio Mane of diving, threatened to start a war of words.
Klopp defended his player, and then suggested that City are guilty of “tactical fouling”.
Guardiola backed down from the row in his next press conference, in Italy in midweek, but it has stoked up passions around a match which is already tense.
A Liverpool win would see them nine points clear at the top of the table, while injury-hit City would probably be happy with a draw.
Guardiola was asked whether there is a rivalry growing with the Liverpool boss, and said: “When I came here I never thought about who my rival is and who I’d have to face on the pitch or in the press conference, this was never one concern in my career as a manager, never.
“When I arrived here there was enough concern to build the team, make them play good and compete for titles, in season one it was Conte, then in the next we grew as a team, and Liverpool too. Maybe next season maybe there will be another. What I was concerned with was my team getting better.”
“I make my hair grown in the next 20 years, because they were more than 20 years together, and this is my fourth season here,” he said.
“We cannot compare anyone with Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, because they are legends at their clubs for more than two decades.”
“To see his team, you realise what he did in Dortmund he’s done it here, you analyse the impact as he took over a team that wasn’t a real contender to win the Premier League and he did it. In three or four years he built something marvellous to watch.”