Pep Guardiola says he is “very pleased and excited” that Manchester City are taking part in the Club World Cup in Saudi Arabia over the coming days.
The treble winners go into the tournament after a slump in results, dropping points in five of their last six Premier League games to leave them fourth in the table.
Playing Club World Cup matches on Tuesday and Friday, they do not return to league action until December 27, by which time there could be a considerable gap between them and the top of the table.
An expert's view of our Club World Cup opening opponent, Urawa Red Diamonds!
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— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 17, 2023
Having seen his side held to a 2-2 draw at home by Crystal Palace on Saturday, Guardiola was asked if the tournament in Saudi Arabia had come at the worst possible time for City, and he said: “No – we love to go to play the (Club) World Cup.
“To go there you have to win the Champions League. I’m very pleased and excited to go there and try to win it, of course.
“The schedule is what it is, the results are what they are and you have to accept it.”
Guardiola stressed with regard to the situation in the league that City must “win games and depend on ourselves”.
Prior to Saturday’s contest, they drew 4-4 with Chelsea, 1-1 with Liverpool and 3-3 with Tottenham and lost 1-0 to Aston Villa before winning 2-1 at Luton.
The Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Palace matches saw City concede late equalisers – on Saturday, after City had led 2-0 and Jean-Philippe Mateta pulled a 76th-minute goal back for the visitors, Michael Olise levelled with a penalty in the fifth minute of stoppage-time.
And when asked why they were unable to close out games, Guardiola said “I would like to know,” adding: “Don’t give away that penalty, and the game will be over. The last minutes, 2-1…we have to control it better.”
City’s trip to Saudi Arabia will see them play Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds in the semis on Tuesday, with the final and third-place play-off then taking place on Friday.
Guardiola said: “The Champions League is more important, absolutely.
“But to play this tournament that we have never played before – you need to be there. And we are going to fly there and see the environment, how it is, and play against Urawa the best as possible to deserve to get to the final.
“Of course, it’s nice. Years ago we could not imagine to be there and we are there.”