Pep Guardiola does not think Liverpool's defeat to Barcelona will affect title challenge

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Pep Guardiola does not think Liverpool’s title challenge will be affected by their Champions League defeat at Barcelona.

Liverpool were beaten 3-0 at the Nou Camp in the first leg of their semi-final in midweek.

They now need to refocus on the Premier League with a trip to Newcastle, for their penultimate fixture, on Saturday evening.

Victory would take the Merseysiders back to the top of the table ahead of City’s clash with Leicester on Monday.

City boss Guardiola said: “I think the game was incredibly good, both sides were incredible. Liverpool were outstanding.

“It was an incredible game, I enjoyed a lot watching it. I don’t think it will affect them really, they fought a lot for this season.

“I think it will be not easy at Newcastle – like Leicester will not be – but they will be well prepared to win there.”

Defeat for Liverpool would give City the chance to secure the title on Monday but Guardiola is not thinking about what it would mean to lift the silverware.
“From the beginning I’ve been asked this kind of question,” he said at his pre-match press conference.

“What we have to do is (play) Leicester. I’m really impressed, the last games, with what I saw about what they do, the quality they have. All we can do is focus on that.”

Guardiola expects a strong challenge from the Foxes, dismissing suggestions they have little to play for.

He said: “I cannot imagine the Leicester players come here for their holidays. Maybe they have a chance to finish seventh. It depends on other results but they will try to make a good game.”

Both Leicester and Newcastle are managed by former Liverpool bosses in Brendan Rodgers and Rafael Benitez respectively but Guardiola insists that is irrelevant this weekend.

He said: “It’s the same, Brendan and Rafa were in Liverpool but it’s in the past. They’ll want to win.

“I cannot imagine going to a former club and not wanting to win, even if I do not have to win. They have the prestige. I don’t have doubts about that.

“It (makes) no sense this kind of question. The players and manager will want to win. All of them want to do a good performance.”

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Ernesto Valverde to make wholesale changes for Celta Vigo clash

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Ernesto Valverde

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde insists his team are not taking Celta Vigo lightly, despite his decision to rest eight senior players for Saturday’s away match.

Barca have already secured the La Liga title and are on the brink of a place in the Champions League final as well as preparing for the final of the Copa del Rey.

Lionel Messi will be rested at Celta, along with Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

However Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Arturo Vidal, Arthur and keeper Jasper Cillessen are among those expected to feature.

According to Marca, Valverde said: “We’re treating this game the same as the others.

“We’re going to try to get three points. We’ve put in lots of effort in the last three weeks and we’re going to make changes because it’s necessary to.

“It’s clear that we got a good result (in the 3-0 Champions League semi-final first-leg victory over Liverpool) but the tie isn’t over, far from it.

“We know this because we watch Liverpool regularly, we know what they’re capable of.

“Although there will be time to worry about (Liverpool), I know we can’t lose focus on the tie, but now we have to concentrate on (Celta).

“I could use (Cillessen) in these games. Each time there’s a possibility, he’s played a match, like he didn’t last year. We’re happy with him, he’s a great goalkeeper and I know that the goalkeeper position is very special.”

Valverde also reminded his team that their past three visits to Celta have resulted in two defeats and a draw, adding: “We lost here last year.

“We made changes in the league and cup, I remember. It’s the first opportunity to change the dynamic.”

Celta manager Fran Escriba has taken encouragement from Barca’s team selection, telling his club’s official website: “We are aware that Rakitic and Busquets are not coming due to a suspension. It’s a good opportunity for us because we believe we can beat any team.”

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When the league is won your foot comes off the gas, says Allegri

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Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri admits his side have been guilty of easing down since sealing the Serie A title.

The Bianconeri clinched an eighth successive league crown with victory over Fiorentina on April 20 and have drawn their two matches since against Inter Milan and Torino.

Allegri’s team are still 19 points clear at the top of the table and the Fiorentina win is Juventus’ only victory in any competition for a month, during which time the club has also been eliminated from the Champions League by Ajax.

On Friday it looked like Juventus would lose at home to city rivals Torino for the first time since 1995 until Cristiano Ronaldo equalised with a late header.

Allegri told the club’s official website: “Clearly once you’ve won the league the foot comes off the gas a little bit and it becomes difficult to find the motivation.

“But compared to the San Siro, we started better and if we hadn’t conceded that goal in the first half it might have been a different game.”

Juventus looked off the pace for much of the first half and it wasn’t until Sasa Lukic’s 18th-minute strike put Torino in front that they started to play.

A much improved second-half performance probably deserved to see Allegri’s team earn a point and the manager took some positives from the match.

“It was a good game. In the first half, as well as the goal we gave up, we allowed them to hit us on the break too much, while in the second half we did better,” he said.

“(Leonardo) Spinazzola finished the game in the ascendancy, whilst Cristiano Ronaldo scored a good goal, everyone gave a good account.

“I’m also happy for the guys who have been making their debuts, today it was (Matheus) Pereira who had a run out, but they have been different players so far and maybe from here until the end of the season there will be an opportunity for some of the others too.”

While Torino’s long wait for a victory away at Juventus goes on, the point kept them in sixth place in the table and means they are still in the hunt for a Champions League place, lying two points behind fourth-placed Atalanta.

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