Sadio Mané acknowledged Pep Guardiola's claim that he is a diver, as the focus will be on him in Liverpool's first-leg clash with Manchester City on Sunday, but admitted that he would "dive again" if it resulted in a penalty. .
The Senegalese striker was accused of "sometimes diving" by City coach after Liverpool's last win against Aston Villa on Saturday – a suggestion that prompted Jürgen Klopp to accuse his opposite number of being "fixated" on his team. Since then, Guardiola has retracted his claim, but with Liverpool having a six-point lead over the champions, Mané believes the City coach was trying to raise the temperature before the biggest match of the season so far.
"I think it's a little smart of him to get the referee's attention but I'm going to play my football like I always do," he said. "I don't pay attention to what he's saying because it's part of football. It doesn't do anything to me. Even though I've seen him comment, what he said to me is positive …"
Liverpool's Sadio Mané wins a free kick from Frédéric Guilbert. Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside via Getty Images
Asked if it looked like Guardiola was concerned about facing a team that won 10 of their first 11 Premier League games, he said: “Maybe. I dont know. You know more than me. The only thing I can say will surely be ready for the team to do everything possible and help my team. If it could be a penalty, I will definitely dive again. If diving gives me a penalty, I'll do it to get it back. Why not? But what Jürgen said is correct. I do not dive.
Mané was hired to play against Villa on Sunday before setting a break to keep Liverpool's lead at the top. This was the third time since the start of the 2015-16 season that the 27-year-old was warned for diving, but he insisted that referee Jonathan Moss could easily have made the decision the other way around.
"There was contact, for sure," said Mané. "Maybe it wasn't a penalty and he didn't give it, and he gave me a yellow card. To be honest, I have no problem. Of course, this can happen in football and we have seen a lot of people, some diving and suffering penalties, others suffering a penalty and the referee didn't give it. This is football. You have to deal with it.
"[I'll keep doing] as I always do. That's what I want to keep doing. If I get a penalty, yes, it's a penalty. If there's no penalty, there's no penalty, but [never] it will change the way I'm playing or how I do my things. "
Michael Oliver will take charge of the game on Sunday in a match that Liverpool fans can enjoy as they have never been beaten in his previous 18 games at Anfield. Klopp's team received three penalties – one more than City – this season, including the 94-minute winner against Leicester, awarded by Chris Kavanagh for Marc Albrighton's Mané challenge.
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Liverpool have not faced City since their 2-1 loss at Etihad Stadium in January, and it was the last time they were defeated in the league – a run of 28 matches. They have also lost 45 unbeaten games at Anfield since their defeat against Crystal Palace in April 2017, including a 0-0 draw with City last season, in which Riyad Mahrez missed a late penalty.
"It will be very different because we have learned so much in our last games against City," said Mané. "I think I can say that we've played all kinds of games in the last two years, so I don't think the game has any effect on us being nervous. But it sure is an extra motivation for us to play against them, especially at home, and to do it." everything possible to win the game. It will be very, very important for us to have a positive result and we will be ready from the first second to the last. ”