Pep Guardiola has compared the tension of trying to wrap up the English Premier League title to a tennis player serving to win Wimbledon.
Guardiola’s side will be crowned champions for a fifth time in six seasons if second placed Arsenal lose at Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
If the Gunners win, then City can seal the title by beating Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, or by winning either of their final two games at Brighton and Brentford.
Clinching the title this weekend would cap a memorable period in which treble-chasing City also thrashed Real Madrid on Wednesday to book a Champions League final showdown with Inter Milan.
But Guardiola knows the pressure of getting one last win in the title race can weigh heavily on a team, in the same way tennis players are sometimes struck with nerves if a Wimbledon title is within reach.
“Now is coming the most difficult thing. Tennis players say to serve to win Wimbledon is the most difficult one,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.
“On Sunday, the game is in our hands to win the most important competition. We’re lucky to have the chance to finish at home with our people. We have to take it.
“Of course we are satisfied to be able to play the Champions League final but it’s non-stop.”
Guardiola knows from personal experience how difficult it can be to finish off a title race.
Last season, City risked losing the title to Liverpool on the final day after falling two goals behind against Aston Villa before scoring three times in the final 14 minutes.
‘The last one the most difficult’
“I have a good memory. Against Aston Villa we were 20 minutes away from losing the Premier League at home,” Guardiola said.
“So the last one is the most difficult one because there are a lot of emotions and many things.
“You have to control it and be focused. We cannot be distracted right now. We will not forgive ourselves if we are distracted in something.”
City trailed Arsenal by eight points last month, but a blistering run of 11 successive wins has carried them to the brink of a third consecutive title.
“In my mind, I’d like to feel we have to win to be champions. This is what we have to think,” Guardiola said.
“We cannot control Nottingham and it doesn’t matter what happens in Nottingham. We have to do our job and win our game.
“If we can win we can celebrate in the stadium with our people and that would be the best.”
City’s will to win was laid bare when Guardiola and star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne shouted at each other during the victory over Real Madrid.
Guardiola insisted there was no problem between the pair after that show of emotion.
“The action with Kevin, I love it. We shout at each other. I like it. I like this step from Kevin,” he said.
“Sometimes, in some games, it’s a little bit flat and I like this energy. This is what we need from him. After that he becomes the best.
“It is not absolutely personal. These things must happen to be competitive and be a good team.”