Read Pep Guardiola's glowing tribute to Rafa Benitez – and Newcastle's 'loyal' fans

Rafa Benitez and Pep Guardiola
Rafa Benitez and Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola has spoken of his respect for Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United ahead of the club's visit to the Etihad Stadium.

Benitez's side take on Premier League champions Manchester City in a televised game this evening.

And City manager Guardiola has spoken about Benitez, Newcastle and the club's fans in his programme column ahead of the game.

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Guardiola said: "Rafa and I have crossed paths many times in our careers, and I have always had the utmost respect for his teams.

"He's a tactically versatile coach who thinks deeply about the game. Rafa has managed teams in Spain, in Italy and in England with great success in domestic and European knockout competitions, and has shown his methods work.

"Newcastle is one of the biggest clubs in England with a fantastically loyal fanbase, and I know they will make life hard for us this evening."