Paul Pogba has said he is looking forward to playing in the Manchester derby on Wednesday, and that it is crucial for Manchester United to secure Champions League football next season.
Last year Pogba scored twice in the derby at the Etihad to delay City’s Premier League title charge, and thinks this year’s game is even more important.
City need to win Wednesday’s game at Old Trafford to keep pace with Liverpool in the hunt to win this year’s title. On United’s part, they must win to stop the rot after a week that saw them crash out of the Champions League to Barcelona and suffer an embarrassing 4-0 loss to Everton.
‘I wouldn’t say it was the same situation [as last year], because they need to win as well, they really need it and so do we,’ Pogba told Sky Sports.
‘We are both in a race for something – them for the title and us for the Champions League for fourth or third place – so it is going to be a tough one and a very important one.’
The French midfielder said that playing in derby games is ‘beautiful’ and ‘intense’ and had been since he was in the United youth set-up.
‘This rivalry has always been there, even when I was in the U18s and we would play against City. This derby just wants love, adrenaline, you play for the shirt with two teams in the same city and you just want to beat them.
‘You can see that those games are very intense and it is beautiful to play in those games because you get the experience, you have the crowd that are behind you and they just push you. To win those games is really beautiful. It feels like it is different from other games.’
Pogba went on to say how much he loved challenging himself against the world’s best, and that Champions League football is vital for his team as they contemplate a second consecutive season without a trophy.
‘Speaking for myself, I love playing against top teams with top players,’ he said. ‘I love to play against them, it is a game I look at, I learn a lot and I gain experience.
‘I just want to play well against this team and you want to win. It is beautiful to stop teams in the league or in the world, you just want to beat them, because to be the best you have to beat the best, so I look forward to those games.
‘Obviously we would be very disappointed [if United did not finish in the top four]. Two seasons in a row without trophies is not good at all.’
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