18 September 2023

Pep Guardiola challenges Man City to win back-to-back Champions League titles

18 September 2023

Pep Guardiola has challenged his Manchester City side to achieve something special and win back-to-back Champions League titles.

The treble winners begin the defence of their European crown as they host Red Star Belgrade at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

City finally put years of near-misses behind them to win the competition for the first time last season but, while Guardiola is proud of their achievements, he feels their mission is not yet over.

The City manager said at a press conference: “I’d like to say that for our club to win the Champions League is incredible – the first time in our history – but, in perspective, how many teams have won the Champions League once?

“A lot have won two, three, four, five. In perspective, we did nothing special. It’s just one.

“Let’s go. Let’s try to win tomorrow against a team so aggressive, so fast up front.”

Guardiola is viewing the challenge as nothing different to past seasons, although he accepts the pressure of trying to defend the trophy will be easier than when trying to win it for the first time.

“It’s most difficult to win the first one,” he said. “But every season we start the competition in the first game with the target to win the first game, then the group stage, then try to win the Champions League. Nothing changes from before.

“The same for Red Star tomorrow. It depends on our performance and our level.

“We’re incredibly happy to defend this crown but this competition doesn’t allow you mistakes.

“But always we were so strong at home, nine points from nine. When that happens you can win just one game away and you qualify. Tomorrow is the first step.”

City reached the European summit, and capped a glorious treble, when they beat Inter Milan 1-0 in the final in Istanbul in June.

Yet the club have not sat back and dwelt on their success, adding the UEFA Super Cup and starting the new Premier League campaign with five successive wins.

Guardiola admits he has not even watched back the final, which was won with a single goal from Rodri.

He said: “People say we won it and it’s done. It’s not done. They’re happy, we’re happy. Every time we come here, people take pictures with the four trophies.

“That makes us so happy, you cannot deny, but if I wanted to live for the memories I wouldn’t be here. I’d be at home or on a beach.

“I didn’t watch the game, no. Not at all. The competition gives us a new challenge so let’s at least try – and I don’t have any doubt we will try.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox