‘No disrespect to Ronaldo, but Messi is on a higher level,’ Pep Guardiola says

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said his team will train on Christmas Day in order to prepare well for their derby against Hull City on 26 December. For a first time in his career after managing teams in the Bundesliga and La Liga which have winter breaks, the Catalan says he will give up anything to get his team back in their winning ways.

Image: Pep Guardiola

“We are going to train [on Christmas Day] in the afternoon and travel to Hull City by bus and play on the 26th. We prepare for the game like it was not Christmas time or Boxing Day,” the 45-year-old said at a news conference.

The former Bayern Munich and Barcelona coach was asked a question about how he intends to challenge for the 2016/17 Premier League trophy after his suffered a dip in form.

“We have to continue to be more solid and effective,” Pep said, regretting a few bad results which jeopardized his teams 10-game unbeaten run at the start of this season.

“We were more aggressive against Arsenal and we controlled the match, but every game is different and many things can happen.”

Manchester City will be playing a total of three games in eight days.

Image: Pep Guardiola

Pep admits he’s eager to earn his first experience of Boxing Day fixtures, adding that missing Christmas with his family won’t come in the way of his club’s objectives.

“I can’t sleep waiting for this day,” the Spaniard said with great expectations.

“I have seen a lot of matches and Hull are a special team. They try to play more than others, and [David] Silva has already warned me about what it means to play there at this time [of year].

“You have to be prepared.”

City will miss Sergio Aguero in the game against Hull as the Argentina international footballer completes his four-match ban.

Pablo Zabaleta is also likely to remain on the sidelines after suffering a knee injury in their 2-1 victory over Arsenal.

Image: Pep Guardiola

While answering questions from reporters at the press conference, Pep was dragged into the unending Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi debate following FIFA’s recent World Best Player award for 2016.

“I agree with Luis Enrique,” he argued.

“Leo is the best because he plays, makes goals and knows how to make others play.

“With the respect that I have for other great players, Cristiano is at the top – but Messi is on another level.”

There are speculations that Messi will leave Barcelona for Manchester City as recent reports confirm the player’s father failed to reach an agreement with president Josep Maria Bartomeu during his last visit to Spain.

A report from Marca confirms that only contact between Messi and Barcelona has been via telephone.

No meaningful discussions have been held between both parties since the famous No. 10 notified La Blaugranas of his intentions to leave.

As a player in Italy, Pep Guardiola served a four-month ban in 2009 for failing a drug test.

He was however cleared of the offense on two occasions after an appeal before the Courts of Justice of the Italian Football Federation and the Federal Anti-Doping Courts of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI).

His achievements as a footballer include: 47 caps for Spain, an Olympic Gold Medal (won in 1992),  and playing for Spain at the 1994 FIFA World Cup as well as Euro 2000. He also played friendly matches for Catalonia.

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