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Guardiola adamant City hold no derby advantage following early Champions League qualification

The Spaniard has played down the idea that his side will be better prepared for their local encounter thanks to their European success

Pep Guardiola has disregarded claims that Manchester City‘s early Champions League qualification has handed them an advantage against Manchester United ahead of their first derby of the season next weekend.

The Blues have already secured a berth in the knockout stages with a game to spare, and will top Group C regardless of their result against Marseille on Wednesday.

But while Guardiola has the luxury of being able to rest key faces, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have to field a full-strength team to ensure progression in Tuesday’s massive Group H clash with RB Leipzig in Germany.

Such midweek exertions may have a knock-on effect when United return home to host City on Saturday at Old Trafford, but Guardiola has dismissed such notions, stressing that the nature of their heated rivalry negates any advantage.

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“I’m pretty sure it’s a derby and we will focus and commit and this means the players are not tired, completely the opposite,” Guardiola said.

Guardiola also professed his satisfaction with his side’s upturn in form following a rough start to the new campaign, adding: “We are in a good moment right now, I would say.

“We are better than one month ago but that is normal. Without preparation, without time, it’s normal what happened.

“What’s important is that we are not far away from the top of the league and already qualified for the next round [of the Champions League]. This is important. Now we want to continue being there.”

City have failed to progress past the last eight of Europe’s top competition since Guardiola’s arrival, with the failure to claim continental silverware a glaring blemish on their record under the 49-year-old.

Elsewhere, the former Barcelona boss was quick to stress the impact of his side’s defensive stability over the coming weeks, adding: “It is important – a lot.

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“In the last game, Eric Garcia and Ruben Dias were brilliant. It’s so important they don’t make mistakes.

“In the games against Leicester, Liverpool and Tottenham we made mistakes we could have avoided. Central defenders cannot do that.

“In the last few games, we have been so solid. If the other team makes a good action, fine. They play too … but we cannot give it to them.

“[On Saturday], Benjamin Mendy, Joao Cancelo … all the back four didn’t make obvious mistakes and this is the step to be solid as a team.”

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