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Guardiola: I know I will be judged on Champions League

Man City manager Pep Guardiola

Man City manager Pep Guardiola believes his time at the club will be judged on whether or not he wins the Champions League.

Guardiola twice won the competition as Barcelona boss, in 2009 and 2011, but has so far failed to bring a first Champions League title to City having lost in the final to Chelsea in 2021.

“It’s public opinion. It doesn’t mean I agree with that but, absolutely, I’ll be judged on that,” Guardiola said.

“On day one since I arrived here, in the first game in Champions League, the first time sitting here, people said I was here to win the Champions League. I said ‘what’?

“If I was manager of Real Madrid – that is not going to happen – I could understand it, but here, I don’t know. But I accept it. As much as I go through, it’s not going to change that.

“It’s the same with many theories about this club, we cannot control it.

“It’s nice at the start of season you are the main candidate and the main favourites to win, even though we’ve not won it.”

Hayters TV looks back at the times City have come closest to winning the competition:

Last season’s heartbreak

When Riyad Mahrez put City up 1-0 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate, Guardiola’s side looked certain to reach back-to-back Champions League finals.

What followed next was one of the all-time most shocking comebacks in the history of the competition. It started with Rodrygo poking home from close range before the substitute struck again just a minute later to level the tie on aggregate.

City’s complete collapse was completed in extra time when Karim Benzema was awarded a penalty, which he duly converted. Real Madrid would go on to win the competition by beating Liverpool in the final.

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It was a huge missed opportunity for City, who were playing at much closer to their peak level under Guardiola. This season has been far less impressive despite the signing of Erling Haaland, and they do not look as well placed to win the competition compared with last year.

Of all the times City have come closest, this might just be the most painful, despite also losing out in a final…

All English final

City went in as favourites to win the competition when they played fellow Premier League side Chelsea in 2021. The Blues finished third in the league that season, 19 points behind Champions City.

But Guardiola’s team selection certainly sprang a few surprises, particularly the absence of a holding midfield player with Fernandinho and Rodri dropped to the bench.

Kai Havertz struck the only goal of the game in the first half to hand Chelsea a second Champions League title, with City struggling to create good opportunities in the game despite the wealth of creative midfielders they had on the pitch.

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Before Pep

The Champions League heartbreak started before Guardiola even joined the club, however.

In the 2015/16 campaign, City met Real Madrid in the semi-final but unlike their more recent meeting this was not as a high scoring of an affair.

After drawing the first leg 0-0 at home, City travelled to the Bernabeu in the reverse fixture but were denied reaching a first Champions League final through an unfortunate Fernando own goal.

It marked a disappointing end to Manuel Pellegrini’s time at the club, who was replaced by Guardiola for the following season.

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Now, Guardiola has another shot at winning the competition that has evaded him for many years, and City for their entire history. But first up is a round of 16 second leg with RB Leipzig…

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