Manchester City boss, Pep Guardiola has confirmed that despite having already won Group C in the Champions League, he will play a strong side when City host Marseille in the final game of the group stages this evening.
City won the group following last week’s trip to Portugal where they drew 0-0 with FC Porto. On Saturday, Guardiola’s side will make the short trip across Manchester to Old Trafford. Only a point splits the two rivals as Manchester United sit a place higher in the Premier League standings.
Guardiola said that City will play the game against Marseille to win.
Marseille in Manchester
Whilst Marseille manager André Villas-Boas will hope that his side can secure a place in next season’s Europa League by finishing the group in third above Olympiacos, Guardiola confirmed that his side will put their best foot forward against the Ligue 1 outfit.
“We're going to play the game to win the game,” Guardiola said. “We're not thinking anything else than to win.
“I don't rest players.
“Our team who are going to play on Wednesday can play against United and then the guys who don't play, maybe they'll play again or not. I don't know.
“There is not one team for one competition and one for another one.
“It is important the last few days that, except for one or two players, everybody was involved. Everybody has to be ready.”
As group winners, City have taken 13 points from a possible 15. Star City striker Sergio Aguero, however, has been absent for a large chunk of the season due to injury.
Having trained this week without suffering a reaction to his recent knee problems, Aguero could feature from off the bench against Marseille. With a fully fit squad to choose from, Guardiola has not ruled out the possibility of the Argentine making an appearance.
“Maybe he will be on the bench. We will see his reaction to his body, not just his knee,” Guardiola explained.
“The important thing is in the last three, four days he was part of the group and the niggles he had in the recent past disappeared.
“He will be back playing regularly when he can train regularly over weeks and weeks and has minutes, minutes, minutes.
“We know Sergio well. He is working incredibly hard to come back. That is the most important thing.
“He needs a little time but we must be patient. We want him back but if the knee responds well he will be back, for sure.
"His quality no-one doubts.”
Respect for Marseille
City beat Marseille 3-0 away from home at the Stade Vélodrome on matchday two. Goals from Ferran Torres, İlkay Gündoğan and Raheem Sterling secured city all three points.
Guardiola has great admiration for Villas-Boas and says that his side will take nothing for granted against the former Champions League winners.
“I have a lot of respect André,” Guardiola said. "He has been at a lot of clubs and had incredible success at Porto - then in England and Marseille. The quality is there.
“Unfortunately, he could not get the results in the Champions League. To start with zero points from two games is difficult but the quality is there with Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin.
“The French league is tough. It will be an interesting game.
“It’s important for them to try and qualify for the Europa League but, for us too in terms of prestige and confidence.”