Manchester United know they “can’t afford to lose” a derby date with City and will need to be “near-perfect”, says Dietmar Hamann.
The Red Devils will welcome their noisy neighbours to Old Trafford on Sunday sat eight points adrift of Pep Guardiola’s side in the Premier League title race.
Defeat would leave Jose Mourinho’s side with a mountain to climb over the remainder of the season, with City threatening to run away with the English top-flight crown.
Hamann believes United will be fully aware of that fact as the pressure continues to build heading into a crunch clash.
The former City midfielder told Sky Sports : "I think over the last few years City have gone into the game as favourites and it's the same this time around because they are going so strong in the league.
"It's probably a game United can't afford to lose because otherwise the gap might become too big with the way City is going at the moment.
"I think it's very hard to make up five or six points, let alone nine or 10.”
United will be without the services of key midfielder Paul Pogba against City, with the Frenchman set to serve a suspension for the red card he picked up in a 3-1 victory over Arsenal.
Mourinho must find a way to cover his absence, with Hamann conceding that United will need to be at their very best in order to collect a much-needed positive result.
He added when pressed on how City can be beaten: "You have to defend well, you have to take your chances and you must not give them any easy opportunities.
"I think you have to cut out mistakes, if one team at the moment can beat them I would be looking at Manchester United because in these big games they are usually very stubborn and very hard to break down.
"They got a great result at Arsenal, where they had probably been outplayed for most of the game and came away with a result.
“You can't give [Kevin] De Bruyne any space, he is the heartbeat of everything good Manchester City is doing. Obviously Pogba is a big loss, but you need to play a near-perfect game, take your chances and they have a good goalkeeper so they should be OK."