Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola announced Tuesday that his team’s next three matches will go a long way to defining their season as they chase an unprecedented Quadruple.
City face Tottenham on Wednesday night in the Champions League trailing 1-0 from the first leg followed by a Premier League double-header against Spurs again and Manchester United.
Anything but a victory on Wednesday would see them eliminated from Europe at the quarterfinal stage for the second year running — and Guardiola said he believes only maximum points in the Premier League will be enough to secure the title.
“If we don’t win these games we will be out of two competitions,” he told a news conference. “They are absolute finals for us, I’ve had that feeling from weeks ago.
“Every time in a competition [they are] when you arrive in the latter stages. We don’t have a 12-point [gap] like last season — in this period, we were already champions.
“But this season we have an incredible opponent like Liverpool in the Premier League. What they have done so far they deserve. Normally with 84 or 86 points you are champion — they have 85. Both teams deserve to be champions but just one team is going to get it.”
Spurs’ first leg victory was helped by a noisy and intense atmosphere from the fans at their new 62,000-capacity stadium, and Guardiola said he needs the fans to generate a similar atmosphere if they are to make the semifinals.
“Many times I played in the semifinals and quarterfinals, and every time I played away the atmosphere was really incredible,” he added. “They support their local teams.
“We need it — really, we need it. I want to see that they want to get to the semifinals. Not the players, the players I have no doubt about after 20 months. I want to see my fans, our fans, that they really want the semifinals. I want to see that tomorrow.”
City remain in the hunt for the Quadruple and while Guardiola has played down the possibility, defender John Stones said the players will do everything to win all four trophies.
“I don’t think a lot of things are impossible, that is the mindset of different people and if you don’t dream big then you are not going to get anywhere near it,” he said. “It comes from within everyone — we have this belief and ambition to do it.
“Like last season, 100 points never done before. We won the league quite early and still had the belief to go on and do it.”
Oleksandr Zinchenko is the only player ruled out although Fernandinho only returned to training on Monday and is not yet at full intensity after being ruled out of Sunday’s win at Crystal Palace.
Tottenham, meanwhile, are definitely without Harry Kane but Guardiola said they will remain dangerous opponents.
“[They will be] the same strong team they had three years ago, last season and this. [They are an] incredible top team.”