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Pep Guardiola: Rivalry with Jose Mourinho 'more an issue for media'

MANCHESTER -- Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has played down his rivalry with Jose Mourinho ahead of their meeting in Saturday's Manchester derby.

The two managers had an acrimonious relationship during their time as rivals at Barcelona and Real Madrid.

They will go head-to-head for the first time as City and United bosses, with both protecting 100 percent records in the Premier League.

But Guardiola told a news conference they had already had a cordial meeting and added: "The last meeting in Madrid-Barcelona was not easy but we met each other two or three weeks ago with the Premier League managers.

"I have said many times I have a lot of respect for him. I always try to learn from all my colleagues and I learn from him as well, it's as simple as that.

"The rivalry between us is more for the media, but we can't control that."

Asked whether he would accept an invitation to join Mourinho in his office for a postmatch glass of wine, Guardiola said: "I will accept if he invites me."

Mourinho is not the only member of the United staff to have had a confrontation with Guardiola.

Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic played for the Catalan at Barcelona and was not happy with his treatment compared with life under Mourinho at Inter Milan.

In his autobiography, the Swede wrote: "Jose Mourinho is Guardiola's opposite. If Mourinho brightens up the room, Guardiola pulls down the curtains and I guessed that Guardiola now tried to measure himself with him [Mourinho]."

But Guardiola said he had no problem with Ibrahimovic, describing him as a player who "has had a big impact in what he did everywhere and he is amazing, especially on the pitch."

"I have a lot of respect for him, what he has done for football," he said. "He is one of the best players, and the best players have an impact.

"The big players don't have to understand the league or need time."

Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.

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