On Monday, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola stated that the club’s attempt to defend their Champions League title will be less challenging than their lengthy campaign to win Europe’s premier club competition.
In June, City won the Champions League for the first time with a 1-0 victory over Inter Milan in Istanbul, putting an end to years of disappointment and near-misses in the competition.
Guardiola was asked about City’s prospects of retaining the title prior to their Group G home opener against Red Star Belgrade and responded, “It’ll be easier. The first game is the hardest to win. It is extraordinary for us, but it is only one.”
Guardiola stated, however, that his players should not be complacent, adding, “Tomorrow is the first stage. We will attempt to obtain the initial three points.
“It is essential that the athletes do not feel at ease. It’s remarkable that our club won the Champions League, but how many other clubs have won the tournament? A lot.
“We haven’t done anything special with just one, but we are incredibly proud.”
Jack Grealish, John Stones, and Mateo Kovacic, who all missed City’s 3-1 victory at West Ham United on Saturday due to injury, will not be available on Tuesday, according to Guardiola.
“I believe they are improving, but tomorrow is not in the cards,” Guardiola added.
“Hopefully for Nottingham Forest [on Saturday in the Premier League] or upcoming games because we need it because we have a small roster right now, but it is what it is.
“Observe how we’ve performed without them in our most recent contests. We need them to return shortly because we need competition.”
Last season, City also won the Premier League and FA Cup, completing a treble. Despite this success, England defender Kyle Walker stated that there was no lack of motivation within the squad.
“Our responsibility is to be motivated. “There’s a reason we’re at a large club,” he told reporters.
“In order to keep moving and be motivated, you must be internally motivated. We must follow in the footsteps of the manager, who does not compromise for second place, and strive for greater victories.
“What we’ve done is now in the past; a new season has begun. The manager drew a diagram depicting us at the base of the mountain and instructing us to ascend it once more. Going again is the distinction between excellent and great teams.”