As Manchester City get their defence of the Champions League underway, Pep Guardiola wants this to be only the beginning.
City overcame RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in the knockout stages of last season’s competition before Rodri scored the only goal to sink Inter Milan at the Ataturk Stadium. The 2023/24 final will take place at Wembley, where Guardiola and City have enjoyed plenty of success.
“I’d like to say that for our club to win the Champions League is incredible,” the former Bayern and Barcelona boss said. “But in terms of the Champions League, how many teams have won it once? A lot have won two, three, four, five. In perspective, we did nothing special. Just one. [But] we didn’t have it and we’re proud.”
“It’s easier [to retain the title]. It’s most difficult to win the first one. It’s something incredible for us, the first time in history, but it’s just once. Let’s go. Let’s try to win against a team so aggressive, so fast up front [Red Star Belgrade in Group G].”
There are plenty of reasons to believe Guardiola when he says the first title is the hardest one, but retaining Europe’s top club trophy has proved to be anything but easy over the years. His own celebrated Barcelona side followed up their 2008/09 and 2010/11 triumphs with heartbreaking semifinal defeats.
“The competition gives us a new challenge so at least try. Just like Real Madrid or the [Arrigo] Sacchi period with Milan, they did it again in a row,” he added. Let’s have a look at those two champion sides and the others who City hope to emulate.
Numerous great sides, from AC Milan, Ajax and Juventus in the 1990s, through to Manchester United and Guardiola’s Barca a decade later all failed in their attempts to become back-to-back winners inRead on sportingnews.com