He may have won the Premier League at a canter with Manchester City last season, but Pep Guardiola knows what it’s like to be in a title fight.
The nerves that get to even the world’s best players at those crucial moments. The self-doubt that creeps in when the pressure is on.
Guardiola’s nine La Liga championships as a player and coach at Barcelona did not come as easily as the three Bundesliga crowns he added at Bayern Munich. He had some titanic duels, not least with Real Madrid.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says he knows how Liverpool's players are feeling
It is why there was more than a hint of hope in the 47-year-old’s voice on Wednesday when he suggested that Liverpool’s title charge may well be interrupted by the odd stumble as the prize appears to be within their grasp.
Jurgen Klopp’s side could crack under the pressure, Guardiola believes, and he has told his players to be ready when they do.
‘When I lived in Barcelona and after Bayern Munich, I know what it means for the players,’ he said.
‘I can feel what they feel, the Liverpool players.
Guardiola states that it's difficult for Liverpool after not winning Premier League for 29 years
‘After 29 years not winning the Premier League to be there to win it, I understand.
‘I said to the players, that’s difficult to handle. That is why this season (we have to) maintain there for as far as possible.
‘For me, that’s an immense and a huge motivation. Why don’t we try it, to catch them up and pressure them?’
No Premier League team has been able to beat Liverpool so far this season. City came closest with Riyad Mahrez’s late penalty miss in a goalless draw at Anfield in October, and on Thursday night at the Etihad, Guardiola knows they must seize the opportunity to close a seven-point gap.
‘We know how important it is,’ he added. ‘It’s almost a final for us. If we are not able to win,