Pep Guardiola has played down the significance of Manchester City’s Champions League success in a stark warning to the squad.
Manchester City lifted the Champions League trophy for the first time in the club’s history in June, as Rodri’s 68th minute strike smashed the Sky Blues to a maiden European title, as part of an historic treble-winning campaign.
Pep Guardiola’s side emphatically beat both Bayern Munich and Real Madrid to reach the Champions League Final, thumping both the German and Spanish heavyweights at the Etihad Stadium with 3-0 and 4-0 victories.
Manchester City begin the defence of their European crown on Tuesday evening, welcoming Red Star Belgrade to the Etihad Stadium in an exciting opening Group G clash.
The treble-winners have never previously faced the Serbian outfit, who were drawn into Group G alongside RB Leipzig and Young Boys.
Prior to winning Champions League last season, Manchester City had suffered notable heartbreaks in the competition; with gut-wrenching defeats to Chelsea, Tottenham, Real Madrid and Lyon.
Guardiola’s side have established an incredible domestic dominance, lifting three successive Premier League titles – winning the league five times in six years.
Manchester City became the 22nd club to win the Champions League last season, but with Real Madrid having lifted the trophy on 14 occasions, and Premier League rivals Liverpool winning the competition on six occasions, Guardiola has played down the Blues’ recent achievement.
“In perspective we didn’t do anything special, just [won] one,” said the 52-year-old.
“Important is the players don’t feel relaxed. If the board are relaxed, good, they don’t score goals. For our club to win the Champions League is something incredible.
“How many teams have won one Champions League? In perspective we didn’t do anything special, just one. For us the club didn’t have it, to be part of that is proud.
“Every season, we start the competition the first game, always the target is to win. 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.
“First year we arrive here, Monaco in last-16, we try to win it. Nothing changes. Now we won it, it’s done – it’s not done.
“We’re happy but every time we see the picture of the four trophies, it makes me feel so happy. We want to live for the memories, I wouldn’t be here.
“We play against West Ham, play the Super Cup and against Newcastle, not an ideal situation, long week for Newcastle. It’s the challenge. It’s the competition, go for it. Competition gives us a new challenge, try, I don’t have any doubt we will try.
“Just Madrid or Milan did it in a few years in a row. I was incredibly proud to be Barcelona manager. We won two times but not in a row. It’s difficult, we try.
“Okay, we are not able to do it like the previous seasons, we qualify for next season and try again.”
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