Xavi is backing his former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola to lead Manchester City to Premier League title glory this season, with Jose Mourinho in need of more time to build a competitive squad at Manchester United.
The two managerial heavyweights are set to lock horns in EFL Cup competition on Wednesday, with Old Trafford playing host to a knockout fixture with plenty riding on it.
City took the spoils in the first derby date of the season – a 2-1 victory back in September – while Guardiola’s table-toppers have opened up a six-point lead over their arch-rivals in the English top-flight standings.
Guardiola would appear to boast the Manchester bragging rights at present and Xavi, a man who worked closely with him throughout his time at Camp Nou, believes he will deliver major silverware to the Etihad this season.
He said: “Both coaches are going to want to win this game. I don’t believe this is a competition they will not take seriously.
“Pep will not be worrying, that’s not his way - but he will not have been happy with recent results - and a good win against the biggest rivals could put them on a good run again.
“Pep will also want to win his first competition with City, that will be important for him.
“Even with City dropping some points in the league, I still think under Pep they’ll be champions this season.”
City have gone five games without a win in all competitions, but United have only one in their last four and saw Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge on Sunday tarnished by a humbling 4-0 defeat.
Xavi feels the Red Devils remain a work in progress, with more tinkering required before they can expect to challenge for domestic dominance.
He added: “The domestic competitions have to be everything for United and Mourinho this season. I don’t think this season they can win the Premier League. These competitions are their hope for a trophy.
“Once Mourinho has had another transfer window, maybe they’ll be ready, but for now they must secure a finish in a Champions League spot - that’s where United belong.”