Juan Mata admits rivalry is gearing up among Spain players ahead of Manchester derby

Juan Mata admits rivalry is gearing up among Spain players ahead of Manchester derby

Juan Mata has admitted a friendly rivalry is gearing up among the Spain players involved in the Manchester derby, live on Sky Sports 1 on Saturday.

Manchester United team-mates Mata and David de Gea are with the Spain squad – which also includes Manchester City’s Diego Nolito and David Silva – ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein, live on Sky Sports Xtra on Monday night.

The Manchester derby at Old Trafford will be the first time former Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho and ex-Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola face each other in English football, having been involved in a fierce rivalry during their time in La Liga.

Mata, who has started all three of United’s opening Premier League fixtures under Mourinho, says the Spain quartet are all focused on international duty but conceded jokes have already been exchanged as the highly-anticipated match approaches.

“All of us are fully aware that this is a very special game, yet we have to understand that these are three points and don’t get too crazy,” Mata said on his official website.

“Both teams have started the Premier League well and the expectations are high, as everybody can imagine.

“David de Gea and me have been joking with Nolito and Silva in the last few days, although the truth is we are now focused on the games with the national team.

“After that, we will have plenty of time to think about this exciting derby.”