Pep Guardiola has pushed his Manchester City team to go above and beyond and win consecutive Champions League championships.
The triple winners face Red Star Belgrade at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday to open the defence of their European championship.
Guardiola is proud of City’s accomplishments but believes their job is not yet complete. Last season, City finally put years of close calls behind them to win the competition for the first time.
I’d like to add that for our club to win the Champions League is wonderful – the first time in our history – but, in context, how many teams have won the Champions League once? the City manager asked at a press conference.
“A number of people have won 2, 3, 4, and 5. We didn’t do anything particularly noteworthy, in the grand scheme of things. There’s only one.
“Go on, then. Let’s strive to prevail tomorrow against a front-running, aggressive club.
Guardiola believes the challenge is the same as in previous years, despite the fact that he acknowledges the strain of trying to defend the trophy will be less intense than trying to win it for the first time.
The first one is the most challenging to win, he observed. But each season, we begin the competition with the goal of winning the opening game before moving on to the group stage and then attempting to win the Champions League. Nothing has changed from the past.
“The same for Red Star tomorrow. It depends on our performance and our level.
Although we are overjoyed to defend this title, you cannot make mistakes in this competition.
“But we were usually so dominant at home—nine out of nine. When that occurs, all it takes is one victory to qualify. Tomorrow marks the beginning.
When City defeated Inter Milan 1-0 in the championship match in Istanbul in June, they ascended to the pinnacle of Europe and completed a spectacular treble.
Though the team has added the UEFA Super Cup and begun the current Premier League season with five straight victories, they have not rested on their laurels.
Guardiola acknowledges he hasn’t even rewatched the championship game, which Rodri won with just one goal.
“People say we won it and it’s done,” he said. It’s not finished. We are happy, and they are happy. People snap pictures with the four trophies each time we visit this location.
“You cannot deny that makes us happy, but if I wanted to be alive for the memories, I wouldn’t be here. Either at home or on a beach, I guess.
“No, I did not watch the game. In no way. We are given a fresh challenge by the competition, so let’s at least attempt. I have no doubt that we will try.