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Guardiola hands instruction to Man City stars as he looks ahead to Liverpool tie


Pep Guardiola has told his players to all but seal their last 16 place on Tuesday night – so they can switch their focus to the Premier League.

Manchester City can make it three wins from three games in Group C with victory over Greek champions Olympiacos at the Etihad Stadium.

That would take Guardiola’s side to nine points and virtually clinch their place in the knockout stage, allowing them to concentrate on their domestic agenda.

City are currently mid-table in the Premier League, five points behind champions Liverpool, whom they host on Sunday, with a game in hand on Jurgen Klopp’s side.

After wins over Porto and Marseille, Guardiola has urged his players to seize their chance to make it a hat-trick of wins in the Champions League.

Guardiola wants City to qualify for the knock-out stages with games to spare

“It’s a tricky competition, that’s why I’m delighted with what we’ve done so far in the Champions League,” said Guardiola.

“That’s also why we cannot miss this chance to get nine points and be in a position where we need just one more step and we’ll be in the 16 best teams in Europe.

“People don’t believe it, but it’s difficult every game.

“It doesn’t matter where you go, you have to do a good game to beat teams, the same at home as well.

Can Guardiola clinch the Champions League trophy for the first time since 2011 this season? Have your say here.

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Guardiola’s side hosts Klopp’s Liverpool on Sunday evening

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“People say it’s easy and they predict the teams who will go through, but everything can happen. That’s why we have to focus on what we have to do.

“It’s a big opportunity for us, a huge opportunity for us to make an incredible step, and we cannot get away from that.”

Guardiola, a two-time Champions League winner as Barcelona boss, reckons the tournament is harder to win now than his last triumph in 2011.

“Today the competition is not like a decade ago,” said Guardiola. “When I started in this competition as a manager, qualifying was much easier than it is now.

“Teams are better, there’s more money everywhere, not just in a few clubs. A lot of clubs have the money to buy important players and important managers.

“Last season we played Atalanta and people said ‘it’s only Atalanta’, but they got close to the semi-finals and this season they are near the top of the league, too.

“When we drew with Shakhtar Donetsk, people said ‘oh it’s easy’, but look what happened with Shakhtar. They won in Madrid and drew with Inter, so it’s really tough.”

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