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Zlatan Ibrahimovic relishes chance to defeat his ex-Barca manager

By Simon Peach

Published 10/09/2016

Hungry: Zlatan Ibrahimovic is ready to take on rivals City
Hungry: Zlatan Ibrahimovic is ready to take on rivals City

Zlatan Ibrahimovic cannot wait to taste the Manchester derby for the first time when old adversary Pep Guardiola brings his side to Old Trafford.

Today's eagerly-anticipated clash between Manchester United and Manchester City will see hostilities renewed between Jose Mourinho and Guardiola, as well as the striker and his former boss.

Ibrahimovic endured an unhappy time under the City manager during their time at Barcelona and the resentment remains, saying in November that the Spaniard was a great coach but "not a man".

It is one of several fascinating sub-plots on an occasion that the self-assured Ibrahimovic approaches understandably confident.

"For me, the big games are the ones that trigger you," the well-travelled Swede said. "They're the games everyone speaks about.

"I have played in many derby games, I've played in El Clasico, the Inter-AC Milan derby, Ajax and Feyenoord, which was the big one there, and PSG-Marseille.

"I have played in all of them, the only one I missed was this one.

"This is coming on Saturday and I am very well prepared, confident and focused, and there is a lot of hard work behind that.

"We are prepared and we are ready. We just wait for the game now."

Ibrahimovic is one of a handful of United players not to have jetted off on international duty in the past fortnight, having played his last match for Sweden at Euro 2016.

During that break he stoked the derby fires with a tongue-in-cheek warning to Claudio Bravo, sending the new City goalkeeper some training gear saying "you're going to need it".

It increased the talk around an already huge match that Ibrahimovic insists United will approach like any other.

"People are talking about it and building it up and the media are discussing the situations from the red side and the light blue side and all the investments and transfers and the new coaches," he said. "It's a normal build-up.

"For me, I've been through it and I know how it is. We are ready. Everyone came back from the national team break and we are back in action. The team is focused."

Belfast Telegraph

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