Pep Guardiola says his Manchester City side need more games like the one against Brighton in order to help them prepare for the upcoming finals in England and Europe respectively.
Having already won the Premier League title, City have the chance to seal a historic treble this season, provided they can win the 2022-23 FA Cup final against Manchester United and the 2022-23 Champions League final against Inter Milan.
In preparation for those games, City faced what was their most difficult clash in recent time against Brighton on Wednesday.
The Seagulls did not relent against the reigning champions even after going a goal down and were the better side for most of the game, even deserving of a winner.
Julio Enciso scored a screamer he would not forget in a hurry and Brighton even had more attempts than City after 90 minutes.
Many claims City have a hangover from title celebrations but Guardiola insists Brighton are a good side regardless and made things difficult for his side.
“Games like tonight are very beneficial,” he said.
“We need these opponents to bring us to our maximum. It’s really good that these teams keep us at our levels.
“All of them, the team was there and that’s why I’m very, very pleased because I know how difficult it was and I don’t want us to drop our rhythm before the two finals. We had it against Chelsea and we need it again against Brentford.”
Guardiola took off Phil Foden and John Stones early in the second half, citing that they were only precautions and nothing overly too serious.
“Phil had a knock in the first half and problems in his leg and the doctor told me that in this position, it is dangerous so we don’t take a risk but Phil was exceptional in the first half,” Guardiola said.
“John felt a little tight but he didn’t feel anything and is fine, he told me, but we didn’t want to take a risk because we had just one central defender with John.
“The others are injured so hopefully they can recover as soon as possible.”
“We have an incredible staff with our physios – without them, it would not be possible,” he added.
“Because we sustained no injuries for a long time I don’t know what happened but the moment we get near the Champions League final, four or five players get little niggles – important ones and we have to recover them.
“We had to play a strong team against Brighton because you can play 90 minutes in your own box and I didn’t want that.”