Pep Guardiola insisted that while Liverpool “may have drunk a lot of beer” in the last week, they are still “remarkable” champions.
And despite inflicting the heaviest defeat ever on a team that has just won the Premier League title, the Manchester City manager believes his side were given the perfect workout as they prepare to fulfil their Champions League dream.
Jurgen Klopp’s side looked off the pace, lacking sharpness as they slumped to a 4-0 defeat at the Etihad, with the manager finding himself three goals down at half time for the first time since his Mainz team suffered a similar margin at Bayern Munich in May 2007.
But Guardiola said Liverpool were not suffering from a hangover.
“I think they drunk a lot of beer the last week, but they were here with no beer in their blood and to win this game,” the City boss said.
“I saw a team with incredible focus, with energy and a desire to win the game, and I saw from the first minute they were focused to play hard.”
City hope to add the Champions League and the FA Cup to the Caraboa Cup they won in February, and Guardiola hopes the win over the champions can inspire his side in their trophy hunt.
“Maybe that will help us. We still have a hard season with trophies to aim for, and we had to be brave to take risks, because they are the best team at high pressing I have every seen in my life.
“We had to be really connected to punish them, and that is what we did.”
While Guardiola was content with his side’s performance, Klopp was apoplectic at times on the touchline, as his side seemed half a yard short.
But afterwards, the clearly simmering Reds boss took real exception to the suggestion that his team lacked desire or were not focused enough.
“If you want to lead this story in direction we were not focused, then do it,” Klopp said. “I liked my teams’ attitude – I saw a brilliant attitude – I saw boys who were fighting with all they have.
“I think I understood the question in the manner that this game didn’t mean that much to us. But we didn’t behave like it didn’t matter.
“We did lack fluidity, and in some 50-50 situations they were quicker than us, and it made the pitch bigger for them, which they used very well.”
Klopp also insisted was far from a thrashing for his team, saying: “They used their chances, and we didn’t.
“City 100 per cent deserved the win today, but like 5-3 not 4-0. It does’t make sense but we have to take it and that’s it.
“We had moments. We had these chances, we were in situations, we didn’t use them that’s true. We had moments where we could have scored, and we didn’t.
“When you don’t score, it’s difficult to mention chances because everybody forgets them immediately – but we had them.”
Kevin de Bruyne was the outstanding player on the night, and Guardiola purred at his performance.
He said: “Kevin, what can I say. I think there are players like this, they speak for themselves and the way they play every single day.
“He is special, and you know he’s an important player for us, the Premier League and this club.”
Klopp insisted that despite the humbling margin of defeat, his team would come back stronger from their drubbing.
“If there is a team in the world that can smash us like this it is probably City but we will come again. Make a few things better and it could look differently but for tonight that is it,” the Liverpool manager said.
“If City are clicking it is uncomfortable to play them. It is very uncomfortable to play us.
“We had good moments but it is difficult to mention them because we lost 4-0. The boys showed we are ready to fight again.”
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