Manuel Pellegrini comments on importance of Premier League

Manchester City take on Stoke City in the Premier League on Saturday before facing Real Madrid four days later in the Champions League.

Manuel Pellegrini has told the Daily Express that Manchester City are still focused on earning a top-four finish in the Premier League, despite their upcoming Champions League semi-final tie with Real Madrid.

Stoke City arrive at the Etihad Stadium four days before the showdown with the Spanish giants, but the Chilean has his heart set on naming his strongest possible lineup for both games as his side look to seal a place in Europe's premier competition once more.

The City boss is adamant that his side will not prioritise either game, insisting that a strong league finish is just as important as progress in Europe.

According to the Daily Express, Pellegrini said: “It's very important for this club to be in the Champions League semi-finals but that doesn't mean we're not worried about the Premier League. It’s very important to get a Champions League place next season.

“All the big teams must always try to reach the Champions League final as well as try and win their domestic league competition – or finish as high as they can."

City go into tomorrow's game against Stoke looking to avenge a 2-0 defeat at the BritanniaStadium  in early December, with Pellegrini viewing it as chance to further strengthen their top-four credentials following a setback at Newcastle United on Tuesday.

"Stoke played very well in that game," he added. "But every game is different. We need three points to keep our options for finishing third in the table."

The 62-year-old added that a fourth win from five games in all competitions would also help his side to build some much-needed momentum ahead of what will be their first ever Champions League semi-final.

“I always believe that the best way to prepare is to win games, try to keep a clean sheet and try to score goals. That will help a lot. It helps the confidence of the players," he said.

“Of course, you always have risks of an injury but I hope nothing will happen and there will be no problems. But for big teams you cannot choose one competition over another."

Real Madrid are also facing the prospect of balancing a league campaign with potential European glory, with a 33rd La Liga title now back on the cards after recent stumbles from bitter rivals Barcelona.

Pellegrini expects Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane to name a full-strength team for the trip to Rayo Vallecano this weekend, but says it still won't give his side any advantage.

He added: "Both teams have to play important games this weekend. Madrid are third, we were third, until yesterday, now we’re fourth, I think we’re both playing for something in our domestic leagues. It’s important for both clubs so I don’t think there’s an advantage in any sense."

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