Manchester City’s stunning form does not guarantee them success at the end of the season, manager Pep Guardiola said on Tuesday.
City head into Wednesday’s final European group stage fixture against Shakhtar Donetsk on a 20-match winning run with top spot in Group F already secured.
“We are playing well but it does not mean we will go on to win the competition. We will try to be there (in the final),” Guardiola, who failed to win a trophy with City in his first season, told reporters on Tuesday.
“I assure you, sooner or later we will lose, but the next day we will recover.”
While their weekend Premier League trip to Manchester United will give them a chance to open an 11-point advantage at the top of the table, Guardiola wants his players to focus on the task at hand on Wednesday.
“We are happy to be in the last 16 already but it is going to be a tough game in Ukraine,” he said. “They make a perfect defensive structure.”
City will be without midfielder David Silva, who picked up an injury after his late winner against West Ham United on Sunday, while Kevin De Bruyne is serving a one-match suspension in Europe.
Phil Foden, 17, was included in the travelling squad and could make only his second appearance for City this season at the Metalist Stadium.
Yaya Toure is also set for a return to the starting lineup, having featured five times for City in all competitions.
The 34-year-old midfielder praised City’s younger players, including Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus, for sharing the goalscoring responsibility during their winning run this season.
“For players like me and Vinnie (Kompany), the older players, and we see the younger players like Sane and Sterling coming in… we play with more confidence,” Toure told reporters.
“Our team is playing some of the best football in Europe but we want to play against the best teams to see where we are. We are full of confidence. The way we control games is fantastic.”