Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says Manchester City are the best team in world football, despite their current third-place position in the Premier League.
League leaders Liverpool travel to face the defending champions at the Etihad on Thursday, live on Sky Sports, with seven points separating the two sides in the table.
Tottenham moved above City into second place on Tuesday with a 3-0 win over Cardiff but Klopp insists Pep Guardiola’s side are still the team to beat this season.
“It is a normal game against Manchester City but a very difficult one, one of the most difficult you can play in modern football,” he said.
“They are a really strong football team with an outstanding manager. Before you play them, you never know.
“We have to be prepared as good as possible, be brave, full of desire and angry again like in all the other games.
“The opponent is, for me, still the best in the world.”
Liverpool midfielder James Milner is in contention to face his former club after recovering from a hamstring injury which forced him to miss the wins over Newcastle and Arsenal.
Klopp said: “He was back in training with us yesterday for the first time, so we will see.”
Guardiola believes his side cannot afford to drop points against Liverpool if they are defend their Premier League title this season, but Klopp has played down talk of must-win matches.
“You will have to ask Pep why he said it,” said Klopp. “If we were 10 points behind after the game, then would I say ‘we can still catch them’.
“Of course not, it is difficult with the quality all the teams have. But it is just not important – it is the second of January.
“It is a very, very, very important game for both teams. I would use it as motivation.”These are six-point games, when we play against each other it can go in all directions. It is a motivation for them, 100 per cent.”