'I think Barcelona are one step higher than Manchester United' - Pochettino says Catalan giants are team to beat
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino believes one team has emerged as the outstanding favourite to win this season's Champions League, as picked out Barcelona as the side most likely to emerge victorious on June 1st in the Madrid final.
Spurs will take on domestic rivals Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals, with Pochettino suggesting Pep Guardiola's club have been moulded to win the biggest prize in European football.
"It is clear that Manchester City are a team designed to win and with an obligation to win," he continued. "They've been doing that for many years. Not only with the arrival of Pep but also with (Manuel) Pellegrini and with (Roberto) Mancini they've been fighting for years and winning things.
"It isn't a surprise to see Man City fighting to win major titles. We will try to compete. We know that in short tournaments the fitness of the team at the time is very important.
"We have the incentive that we have a new stadium and we will play with 62,000 spectators. That will create a special energy. We hope to arrive in good shape so we can compete and win."
While Pochettino was full of praise for City, he believes Barcelona are now the team to beat in the Champions League, as they prepare for a last eight clash against Manchester United.
"If there is one favourite team to win Champions League it is Barcelona," he added. "(Ernesto) Valverde is doing a great job. They have players of extraordinary level, and then they have Lionel Messi.
"I think the Manchester United team that has been built during the past few years was built to win big things, but winning important competitions such as the Champions League or Premier League always depends on the small details.
"Of course they have players able to make things difficult for Barcelona, but I think Barcelona are one step higher than Manchester United."
Pochettino has been strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid in recent months and is also believed to have admirers at Manchester United, but he has told reporters in Spain that he has no desire to leave Tottenham despite their failure to sign a player in the last two transfer windows.
"I am very happy at Tottenham. I have four more years on my contract. Maybe 99 percent of my colleagues have a different mindset," he added.
"I enjoy it day by day and whatever happens tomorrow will be a consequence of today. But I don't look at things too far ahead or think very long term. When I signed my contract I did it because I was happy.
"Nobody thought that Tottenham would be in the fight to win titles this year, following the investment made by other clubs to enhance the quality of their teams. Clubs that are in need of winning titles.
"Tottenham are different, but despite everything we are still here in the fight, because of our own merit. We hope to finish well this year."