The mutual respect flowed from Pep Guardiola when speaking at length on his rivalry with Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool, while rumours of taking the Brazil national job were also addressed.
Man City and Liverpool have combined to dominate the Premier League over recent years. City have won three out of the last four with Liverpool winning their first Premier League title in 2019-20. The pair have also clashed in the Champions League and will meet in the FA Cup semi-finals a week on April 16.
But before then, the modern rivals will do battle at the Etihad on Sunday with the fate of the Premier League trophy potentially at stake.
Many had predicted Chelsea would thrust themselves into the title mix this season, but it has once again been Liverpool and City as the final two left standing.
And speaking in his Friday press conference (via the Manchester Evening News), Guardiola spoke in glowing terms about his great adversaries.
When asked if Liverpool v City is bigger than Real Madrid v Barcelona, Pep said: “We play many times, more times.
“Jose [Mourinho – Real’s manager during Pep’s time at Barca] is an exciting manager and we had the rivalry in Barcelona. In five years here we play many times, all the times we were close.
“I faced in Munich with Jurgen [at Dortmund]. How we set up the teams here we were close many times. Every season except the year we got 100 points and the year they got 99 we were tight.”
Guardiola references great tennis rivalry
When asked how long the rivalry with Liverpool will last, Guardiola said: “Nadal, Federer and Djokovic was 20 years and we are five years.
“Footballers run quicker and to maintain success is more difficult than other sports. When I retire and watch and play golf I remember here the biggest rivalry was Liverpool.
“When you achieve 100 points and 98 points you need someone to push from behind to be so close. You have to make another step.
“I think Liverpool, knowing our club and chairman, we want to grow. I’m sure Liverpool and other teams are going to try to do it.
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“The most credit I give is consistency through the years. Both have had four or five years. That’s why Federer, Nadal, Djokovic have been at the top for so long. Arriving at these stages to win the titles, we try to do it.”
Guardiola was then quizzed on if he feels unlucky to be managing in England at a time when Liverpool are stronger they’ve ever been since the 1980s.
“Real Madrid made Barcelona better,” continued Guardiola. “Dortmund with Jurgen and Tuchel. Here, United and Chelsea change their managers but at Liverpool, Jurgen has always been here.
“How consistent both clubs have been to improve what they need. It’s obvious to say we grew up from day one.”
Surprise reports recently emerged linking Guardiola with taking the Brazil national team job after the Qatar World Cup later this year.
Typically, Guardiola gave the speculation short shrift and reaffirmed his commitment to Man City.
“Not today, come on,” added Guardiola. “I’m under contract here, I’m so happy. I’m willing to stay forever here. I’d extend the contract ten years but now is not the moment.
“I don’t know where it’s come from.”