Pep Guardiola: Man City winning Champions League once is nothing special

Treble winners face Serbian side Red Star Belgrade at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday

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Pep Guardiola has challenged Manchester City to win multiple Champions League titles saying lifting the trophy once is “nothing special”.

City won the Champions League for the first time in the club's history last season, clinching a historic treble, and they start the defence of their crown against Red Star Belgrade at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

Guardiola's side already have one trophy in the bag, having defeated Sevilla to lift the Uefa Super Cup last month, and have started the Premier League campaign by winning five out of five games.

On Saturday, they came back from a goal down to beat West Ham United 3-1 at the London Stadium with Erling Haaland scoring his seventh goal in five league games.

City defeated Inter Milan 1-0 in Istanbul to become European champions thanks to Rodri's goal and while Guardiola is proud of their achievements, he insists there is much more to achieve before the team can be counted among the all-time greats.

Ahead of Tuesday's game against the Serbian champions, Guardiola said: “I'd like to say that for our club to win the Champions League is incredible – the first time in our history – but, in perspective, how many teams have won the Champions League once?

“A lot have won two, three, four, five. In perspective, we did nothing special. It's just one.

“Let's go. Let's try to win tomorrow against a team so aggressive, so fast up front.

“It’s most difficult to win the first one,” the Spaniard added. “But every season we start the competition in the first game with the target to win the first game, then the group stage, then try to win the Champions League. Nothing changes from before.

“The same for Red Star tomorrow. It depends on our performance and our level.

“We’re incredibly happy to defend this crown but this competition doesn’t allow you mistakes.

“But always we were so strong at home, nine points from nine. When that happens you can win just one game away and you qualify. Tomorrow is the first step.”

City defender Kyle Walker revealed ahead of their Group G opener that Guardiola has told the team that they must consider themselves back at the bottom of the mountain again this season.

Walker, 33, signed a new contract last week after previously being close to joining Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, who did sign his England teammate Harry Kane.

“The lads have got that hunger again to go and achieve something really special again this season, fingers crossed,” he said after agreeing a two-year extension. “So I wanted to be a part of it and I didn't want to miss out on that.”

And Walker said on Monday that the team has to be ready to go again as that is “what separates the good teams from the great teams”.

“It’s our job to stay motivated. We’re at a massive club for a reason, because the manager believes in us and we’re all great players,” said the England right back who has captained the team this season after the departure of Ilkay Gundogan to Barcelona.

Manchester City will again be without defender John Stones, midfield summer signing Mateo Kovacic and winger Jack Grealish and for the match due to injuries. Playmaker Kevin de Bruyne remains a long-term absentee.

Kyle Walker, centre, during training ahead of Manchester City's Champions League clash with Red Star Belgrade. PA
Updated: September 18, 2023, 4:44 PM