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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Eric Abidal says Man City must win trophies if they want to be considered one of the best

French defender in UAE to promote Dubai International Sports Conference also spoke about Barcelona's victory in el clasico

Former France international defender and Barcelona ambassador Eric Abidal speaks during a press conference for the Dubai International Sports Conference and Dubai Globe Soccer Awards at Madinat Jumeirah. Christopher Pike / The National
Former France international defender and Barcelona ambassador Eric Abidal speaks during a press conference for the Dubai International Sports Conference and Dubai Globe Soccer Awards at Madinat Jumeirah. Christopher Pike / The National

Former Barcelona defender Eric Abidal says the rest of Europe will fear Pep Guardiola’s record-breaking Manchester City.

The Premier League leaders have been creating history of late, racking up a record-extending 17th successive league victory on Saturday to head the table by 13 points at the halfway stage. It is the largest advantage at Christmas between first and second in English top-flight history.

Meanwhile, in defeating Bournemouth 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium, City became the first top-flight team to register 100 goals in a calendar year since Liverpool in 1982.

Such has been City’s dominance this season that some have suggested Guardiola’s rampant side represent the best in Premier League history. City’s form has not gone unnoticed outside of England, too, with the English club installed as favourites for the Uefa Champions League. They face Switzerland's Basel in the last 16, which begins in February.

Abidal knows better than most what it takes to be crowned Europe’s best, having won the Champions League twice with Barcelona - both with Guardiola in charge.

Asked in Dubai on Sunday if Europe's top clubs are now fearful of City, the former France international said: “Yes, yes, for sure. For sure. It’s not easy to play against City when you see what the team is doing now. And for sure the opposition are afraid to play against them."

However, Abidal was keen to emphasise that City cannot be considered a major European force until they back that up with trophies. They have yet to win a title since Guardiola arrived at the club in the summer of last year.

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“When you look around and see the statistics of the team, of course you can say it’s one of the best teams in Europe," Abidal said. "But it’s not enough. Because you can play and win and win and have records, but in the end if you don’t have the trophy you have nothing.

“So for sure that everybody is watching now because they score a lot of goals and this is something new for the Premier League. Many years ago it was Arsenal and Manchester United. Now it’s City, a new generation.

“Definitely they have this objective. That’s why they signed this coach and the new players. But only after trophies we will talk about best teams and everything. But for sure they have one of the best squads in the world.”

Abidal spent six years at Barcelona from 2007, winning 15 trophies including four Primera Liga titles. As a club ambassador now, he delighted in Barca’s 3-0 victory in el clasico on Saturday, with the Camp Nou side extending their lead over Real Madrid in the Primera Liga to 14 points. Barca head the standings by nine points after 17 rounds, with defending champions Madrid in fourth.

“For sure, it was a good victory for the club and for the fans,” said Abidal, as he promoted this week’s Dubai International Sports Conference. “A very important match, but La Liga is not done. There are still many matches to play.

“We have a lot of experience, we know that you can have a big gap between first in the table and second. But Real Madrid is a huge club, they have a good team and you know if you make some mistakes they can be behind you again and put pressure.

“We have to be focused on the goals, work hard, try to win all the matches coming and after that, in April, we will talk about La Liga or not.”