LONDON, England — Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona stopped Real Madrid winning the title when they recorded the club’s best-ever points tally, and he suggested his Manchester City side may have to repeat that feat again if they are to finish above Liverpool this season.
Guardiola was in his second season at the Nou Camp in 2009-2010 when Barca collected 99 points to finish three above Madrid, at the time managed by Manuel Pellegrini, whose West Ham side were thrashed 4-0 by City on Saturday.
This season, City, who last term collected a Premier League-record 100 points en route to a title, have taken 35 points from their opening 13 matches, but second-placed Liverpool are just two points behind after their best-ever start to a Prem campaign.
Guardiola remembers the season he pipped Pellegrini’s side to the La Liga title well. He said the intense pressure pushed Barca to play some of their best football during his time and ensured there was no complacency a year after the Catalan club had claimed an historic Treble.
“I remember perfectly that season how tough it was,” Guardiola told a news conference. “With 96 points, Madrid, and under Manuel, playing incredibly good. That’s why it was so nice. Because we did the 99 points when the year before we had won the Treble with Barcelona.
“That’s why we maintained that level, 99 points. It was good, we did 99 points because someone from behind pushed us, and we knew that if we drop points Madrid is going to win the title. That’s why it helped us.”
Liverpool are pushing City this season and Guardiola’s side have not shown any signs of taking their foot off the gas so far this season.
In Spain, Real went on to better their tally two years later with 100 points under Jose Mourinho and Guardiola drew a comparison with men’s tennis where the world’s best players have been challenging each other to get even better.
“It’s quite similar with Nadal, Federer and Djokovic, no?” Guardiola added. “They put one better than the other one because they know.
“We need it as athletes, in sport, [the players] know, I didn’t tell them but they know how strong Liverpool are, and they know that we can’t drop points because if we do then Liverpool is going to win the league.
“We can say Liverpool or Chelsea or Tottenham and Arsenal as well. To compete, we need good opponents close [to us] and of course this season we have it, here and in Europe.”