Pep Guardiola: My Manchester City team will not lack motivation for Brighton

With everything surrounding Manchester City at the moment, you could be forgiven for thinking they have forgotten about their Premier League match at lowly Brighton tonight

Pep Guardiola wants his team to be 'intense' at Brighton
Pep Guardiola wants his team to be 'intense' at Brighton

City are near certain of a top four finish and also have an FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal on the horizon and a Champions League quarter-final second leg against Real Madrid.

Sandwiched in between all this, they have a spot of Premier League minnow bashing to deal with as they face lowly Brighton, Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich in quick succession.

They will also learn the outcome of their appeal against a two-year exclusion from European competition on Monday morning and Pep Guardiola has reiterated his confidence their Champions League ban overturned.

The club were hit with the punishment in February after being found guilty by UEFA of breaches of the European governing body's Financial Fair Play regulations.

City challenged that verdict at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and have always been bullish about winning their case.

Guardiola said: "The intention is, every season, to play in the Champions League and do the best as possible. It's not about what is going to happen on Monday.

"But on Monday I'm so confident because I know, and hear, and saw, the arguments of the club that next season we will be there."

City remain firmly in contention to win this season's delayed Champions League.

They lead 2-1 after the first leg of their last-16 tie against Real Madrid and now know they will play Juventus or Lyon in the quarter-finals should they finish the job.

City learned on Thursday they will be able to host Madrid at the Etihad Stadium - albeit behind closed doors - after suggestions the game could be moved to a neutral venue in Portugal along with the latter stages of the competition.

Guardiola feels that was a sensible decision.

Were the suspension not hanging over them, City, second in the Premier League, would be almost certain of playing in the Champions League next season.

Guardiola, however, points out it is not yet mathematically secured. He is using that fact, in preparation for the FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal and the game against Real Madrid, to keep his side motivated.

City, who thrashed Newcastle 5-0 last Wednesday, travel to Brighton on Saturday. Brighton lost 3-1 to Champions Liverpool on Wednesday and are eight points above the drop with four matches remaining.

Guardiola said: "The best way to keep the condition is to play at high intensity, at our level and our rhythm.

"It's a good test for us to read the game, to win the last point we need to qualify for next season's Champions League - an incredible success again - and move forward and keep going.

"Playing the way we have been since lockdown, I am more than satisfied."

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