League Cup done and dusted now Pep Guardiola eyes bigger prizes
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By Martyn Herman
LONDON - Even as his Manchester City players celebrated on the Wembley pitch after winning Sunday's League Cup final, manager Pep Guardiola was already setting his sights on bigger prizes.
City's 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur - a scoreline that did not do justice to their dominance - sealed a record-equalling fourth successive League Cup trophy.
It was also the first part of what could be a treble this season. Manchester's United's failure to beat Leeds United on Sunday means City could seal a third Premier League title in four seasons as early as next weekend.
Before that City take on Paris St Germain in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final.
So while Guardiola was clearly delighted with Sunday's win - making him the first manager to win the League Cup in four successive seasons - the Spaniard knows that is only an hors d'oeuvre to the season's main menu.
"Now we rest and prepare for the (Champions League semi-final) first leg against Paris Saint-Germain, then after that we are two games away from trying to win the most important title of the season," Guardiola said.
"The Premier League is the nicest one, the one where I am most proud when we are able to do it.
"We are 10 points clear, we need two victories, and in between the games in this crazy schedule we are going to try to win the next one against Crystal Palace."
Barring an unprecedented collapse, City will be crowned Premier League champions, but the Champions League is in the balance. It has proved a tricky challenge for Guardiola since arriving at City with a mission to make the club the kings of Europe, so much so that the clash with PSG is his first semi-final since taking over at the Etihad.
Therefore it was a slight surprise to see so many of his key men, including Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden, being risked against a sub-standard Tottenham side.
""We cannot deny one eye is always on the Champions League," he said. "(But) I have to be honest with myself and I thought they were ready to play in this selection.
"We arrive in these last stages, as we did this season and in previous seasons, because we take every game seriously. If not it is impossible to win four Carabao Cups in a row."
Sunday marked Guardiola's 30th piece of silverware as a manager since taking over at Barcelona in 2008.
He was modest about that haul though.
"It was good in big clubs, Barca, Bayern, here. That's why it's easy to do it," Guardiola said.