Zabaleta: Manchester derby like Argentina against Brazil

The Manchester City right-back knows exactly what the fixture means for the club’s fans and the people in the city and has promised to give 100 percent

Pablo Zabaleta says the Manchester derby is the biggest game in England, comparing it to the rivalry between Argentina and Brazil.

The Manchester City right-back is expected to start at Old Trafford on Sunday as Manuel Pellegrini’s table toppers look to extend their two point lead over their neighbours in the Premier League.

However, there’s more than just points at stake when City and United meet and Zabaleta says he knows what this fixture means for the club’s fans.

“This is the biggest game for sure in England,” he said. “We know how important it is for the fans, for the club and also because we play against a team that is joint-second in the league, two points behind.

“Both teams play for something important, not just pride, something really big.

“They have a chance to beat us and go top of the league and we have a chance to extend the gap. Hopefully we can do it.

“It’s like Argentina-Brazil. When you play against a team that you know is a rival and everyone wants you to beat — we know how important the game is in the whole city.”

Louis van Gaal’s side won 4-2 when the two sides last met in April, a result which Zabaleta admits hurt a lot.

But the Argentina international does not want to dwell on that loss and is completely focused on winning this weekend’s encounter.

“It was a very hard defeat, because in the way we played the game it wasn’t good,” the 30-year-old continued.

“You expect to play much better than that with the players we have in the team.

“But we don’t think about revenge. We have had the chance to win more games at Old Trafford. I remember playing pretty well there and winning 6-1, 3-0.

“Sometimes you don’t expect to lose like we did last season there. It was really hurtful for everyone, but hopefully we will try to make sure it does not happen again – and we can win.

“You have to play those games with 100 per cent attitude and passion because it means a lot for the fans. That’s what we will try to do.”

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