Guardiola: Bravo is ready to play

As one would expect, Pep Guardiola didn’t give too much in terms of his team selection in his pre-derby press briefing.

The Catalan, who is preparing for his first trip to Old Trafford, hinted that Claudio Bravo might make his debut in the match but ruled Vincent Kompany out.

Leroy Sane also comes into contention for a first appearance following his hamstring injury.

Guardiola told journalists: “Claudio is OK, he had a little bit of a problem in his leg but he’s trained the last two days. Sane is in terms of his condition, is the best player - Gundogan is much better.

“Bravo is fit and ready - he’s 32, 33 years old - he has experience. No problem with that. He has to save the goals.

“Kompany is training but we are waiting for the blood test to be sure. He’s fit but we don’t want to take too much risk because of what happened last season. We will be sure when he comes back he is 100%.”

The two men in opposite dugouts will command many of the column inches in the hours leading to this lunchtime kick-off.

Formerly colleagues at the Camp Nou, then rivals on either side of the El Clasico divide, Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are pitted against one another once again, this time in the Premier League.

However, Pep emphasised that he has learned a lot from Mourinho and poured water on the notion that there is bad blood between the pair.

“I said it many times – I have a lot of respect for Mourinho, I always try to learn from all of my colleagues – it’s the same with him,” Pep said. “The rivalry is more from the media and we can’t control that.

“He was my coach, my assistant coach with Sir Bobby Robson. OK, the last period at Barcelona and Real Madrid was not easy for both of us but we met each other two, three weeks ago at the manager’s Premier League meeting.

“We spoke fluently with Ronald Koeman and Tony Pulis. It was correct, so that’s all.

“Of course I’ll accept a glass of wine after the game if he invites me.”


Guardiola would not be drawn on comparisons between the Manchester derby and other local rivalries he’s been a part of in the past.

Instead, he expressed his intention to enjoy this one for the first time before drawing any conclusions.

Pep urged: “Let me live this derby and after I can tell you how it can compare with Spain and Munich. I think that for the media on both sides, in Spain and here it’s similar.

“A lot of people talking good and bad things - thousands of hours of analysis. It’s nice for the people involved in that - the painters and the writers can live it as their jobs.

“They can talk about their books, their talents - we’re fortunate to live here and experience that. I’m so happy to be here for the first time in my life to be here in England after we think about the Champions League.”

Following hours upon hours of analysis on his next opponents, Pep feels as though United have improved with each game.

The 45-year old also warned that his former Barcelona player Zlatan Ibrahimovic can do real damage with his quality.

“We know how we are going to play tomorrow - we know we’re going to play a real good team," Pep considered. "I saw the four official games United have played and in every game they’ve played better than in the one before. Like us.

“That is normal and of course they have a lot of talent in front - Martial is so fast, Mata between the lines is so dangerous. The quality of Rooney, there’s no doubt about Ibrahimovic’s quality. Set pieces with tall guys it’s impossible to control that, they’re taller than us. They’re a top team, like Manchester United always is.

“I have a lot of respect for what Zlatan has done for football. He’s one of the best players and of course the best players impact the way they arrive in the clubs with the talent immediately. Some players have to understand the league - the best players do it quickly and he’s one of the best ones.”

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