Pep Guardiola has downplayed Manchester City’s achievement, stating that winning just one Champions League title isn’t ‘anything special’ as they gear up to defend their championship.
City clinched their first-ever European club football title in June, triumphing over Inter Milan 1-0 in the final match in Istanbul, thus completing a historic treble.
Pep Guardiola’s side, who have triumphed in all five of their Premier League matches this season, will go head-to-head with former champions Red Star Belgrade at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
‘For our club to win the Champions League is something incredible,’the City boss told reporters on Monday. ‘But how many teams have won just one Champions League? A lot.’
‘But there are a lot to win two, three, four, five. In perspective, we didn’t do anything special, just one. For us the club didn’t have it, to be part of that (makes me) proud.’
Real Madrid holds the top spot with 14 Champions League titles, followed by AC Milan with seven. Both Liverpool and Bayern Munich have clinched the prestigious trophy six times apiece.
Pep Guardiola suggested that defending their trophy might prove less daunting than clinching it for the first time, especially considering their recent victory after enduring years of frustrating near-misses.
‘The hardest thing is to win the first one,’ he said.
The Champions League final this season will be held at Wembley, but Guardiola said that was not in his thoughts.
‘We didn’t think about that,’ he said. ‘Win the first one. You have to think of the final when you are in the quarters and semis. The first game in these months, it’s a long time. Still a long, long, long time.’
‘Let’s try to win tomorrow (against) a team who is so aggressive and fast upfront.’
Kyle Walker, the defender who recently inked a contract extension, affirmed that City’s players remain eager for further triumphs, even though they have secured numerous trophies in recent years.
‘It comes from within to keep going,” he said. “The hunger is still definitely in the dressing room from the players and the manager. He (Guardiola) still wants to win more, won’t settle for second and we need to follow his footsteps.’
The match against Red Star will see City without John Stones, Jack Grealish, and Mateo Kovacic, who continue to be sidelined. Red Star, winners of the European championship in 1991, will be their rivals.