Pep Guardiola pleased with preview of upcoming rivalry with Liverpool
Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City's Community Shield triumph against Liverpool was the perfect preparation ahead of this season's duel for supremacy between the English Premier League rivals.
Guardiola's side drew first blood on the eve of the new campaign with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out success after a 1-1 draw in the annual curtain-raiser to the English top-flight season.
The Wembley clash showed there is virtually nothing to separate the two teams, after City pipped Liverpool to the EPL crown by one point last term.
Juergen Klopp's side could have won in normal time but for a superb display from Claudio Bravo and Kyle Walker's incredible overhead-kick off the line, leaving Guardiola to admit the Reds will again present the main obstacle to his club's ambitions.
"There are two real contenders, Liverpool and us, to win the Premier League. (Manchester) United with (Harry) Maguire and the other players they bought, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham (Hotspur) can be there," Guardiola said.
"Maguire is an excellent, top-class player. We were interested but we could not afford it.
"In the beginning of the season, there are five or six contenders. Then the season will talk. I think it will be us and Liverpool, so it is good to see the team we will compete with, the champions of Europe.
"They are a top-class team, the difference is minimal, one point last season and one penalty today.
"That's why it's good to play them, to say 'Guys this is the team we have to compete against. That is what we have to prepare for'."
Guardiola eased fears Leroy Sane suffered a serious injury when City's Germany winger - a transfer target for Bayern Munich - limped off in the first half.
"The first impression was not good but I think it is not that... I will wait to see what the doctors say but I think he will be OK," Guardiola said.
While Liverpool finished a difficult pre-season - including several defeats and the delayed return of their top stars from international duty - Klopp said his side's dominant second-half performance showed they will be a thorn in City's side.
"I'm completely happy about it. No team plays like City. You saw in a few moments that we struggled positioning-wise when they do what they can do," he said.
"But we changed a few things and in the second half of course it is about will. No one felt tired any more and I like that a lot." - AFP