After ending Manchester City’s long pursuit of the Champions League trophy, manager Pep Guardiola wants his team to defend the title this term. Ahead of their opening match against Serbian club Crvena Zvezda, formerly Red Star Belgrade, he outlined his ambitions: “I’d like to say that for our club to win the Champions League is incredible. 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.”
Retaining the trophy, he said, is less difficult that winning it for the first time. “It’s easier. 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 tomorrow against a team so aggressive, so fast up front,” he said.
However, only eight managers have successfully defended. Guardiola is not one among them, though he has won twice in three seasons with Barcelona. He made it sound like a regret, which he wants to erase. “The competition gives us a new challenge so at least try. Just like Madrid or the Sacchi period with Milan, they did it again in a row. I was incredibly proud at Barcelona to win two in four years [as coach, in 2009 and 2011] but we didn’t win it in a row. Let’s try by being ourselves,” he said.
At the same time, he is not thinking too far ahead. “First the group stage, then last 16, try to win. We didn’t change when we didn’t win. Nothing more than Red Star, depends on our performance and level. We’re incredible happy to defend this crown. This competition doesn’t allow you to drop. Always we were strong at home, tomorrow is the first step,” he said.
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