Pep Guardiola has called on his players to show that Manchester City are a big club capable of winning the Champions League.
The Blues will carry a 2-1 advantage into the second leg of their clash with Real Madrid and the draw for the latter rounds was mapped out on Friday, with potentially Juventus and then Barcelona standing in the way of a first final appearance.
City’s manager was in no mood to discuss anything beyond Real Madrid though. He has personal experience of Los Blancos through his playing and coaching career, and since leaving Spain has seen Zinedine Zidane win the competition with them three years in a row. If the priority for City in the remainder of the season is the Champions League, Guardiola will not allow any of his players to get ahead of themselves.
Zidane’s side have won all seven games since they restarted where City have lost twice, in a reminder of what makes them such a dangerous opponent
“The success is easy – he’s a top manager at a top club with incredible players,“ Guardiola said of Zidane.
“They’ve ‘faulted’ a little more in La Liga in the last decade but in the Champions League, what they have done is incredible. No-one has done it, we can see and we all know how difficult it is to win three Champions Leagues in a row.
“It’s how they handle the good moments. When they play good they win, when they don’t play good they get results. You cannot win the Champions League winning all the games at a high, high level.
“They know the competition, they know exactly the way they have to play these games, because they’ve been there many many times, but we cannot deny the success from Barcelona as well in the last decade in the Champions League was really good too.”
City’s challenge, that they have shown with defeats to Chelsea and Southampton they are yet to conquer, is how to turn good performances into consistent results.
This attempt to win the Champions League could be the last for a few years if the Court of Arbitration for Sport upholds the ban placed on the Blues, while it will definitely be David Silva’s last attempt to win it with the club.