Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City’s Champions League fortunes are dependent on how well his side performs in the Premier League.
While the Catalan acknowledges the Blues are close to lifting the title, he is keen to stress it is not yet over, and says his players must keep fighting with the same intensity to maintain momentum in Europe.
Having booked a place in the Champions League last eight against Basel in midweek, Guardiola takes his side to Stoke on Monday evening and is adamant performance levels cannot drop if we are to fulfil ambitions this season.
“The situation this season is exceptional because the [points] distance is not normal at the beginning of March,” he told journalists at Friday’s pre-match press conference.
“We lost against Basel and the Premier league is quite similar, we are almost champions but we are not done.
“We have to take the points as soon as possible.
“What is going to happen in the quarter-finals depend on our level in the Premier League and in the Premier League it can help us in the quarter-finals.
“That’s why we have to be focused on what we have to do.”
The 19th placed Potters lost 7-2 on their visit to the Etihad Stadium in October.
For Guardiola, though, Paul Lambert’s side’s struggles this season are irrelevant, with the Blues boss suggesting that as we approach the business end of the season, teams fighting for their Premier League lives can pose the sternest of tests.
“[It will be] so tough,” he added.
“I know [Eric Maxim] Choupo-Moting and [Xherdan] Shaqiri, who was at Bayern. Joe Allen is an exceptional player and they are strong.
“There are a lot of set-pieces and it’s always a tough game at Stoke City.
“When we face teams that are fighting to stay in the Premier League, you cannot imagine how complicated it is.
“Sometimes it’s more complicated than [playing] teams in a better position in the league.”