Pep Guardiola said Manchester City have done “nothing special” by winning just one Champions League as the champions prepare to launch the defense of their crown.
City won European club football’s top prize for the first time in June, beating Inter Milan 1-0 in the final in Istanbul to complete a historic treble.
Guardiola’s men, who have won all five of their Premier League games this season, will face former champions Red Star Belgrade at the Etihad on Tuesday.
“For our club to win the Champions League is something incredible,” the City manager told reporters on Monday. “But how many teams have won a single Champions League? A lot.
“But there is a lot to gain: two, three, four, five. In perspective, we didn’t do anything special, just one. For us the club didn’t have it, being part of that makes me proud.”
Real Madrid leads the ranking with 14 Champions League titles, followed by AC Milan with seven. Liverpool and Bayern Munich have six each.
Guardiola said his team might find it easier to defend their trophy than win it for the first time; His recent triumph came after years of agonizing near-misses.
“The most difficult thing is to win the first one,” he said.
This season’s Champions League final will be held at Wembley, but Guardiola said that was not in his thoughts.
“We didn’t think about that,” he said. “The first one wins. You have to think about the final when you are in the quarterfinals and semifinals. The first game of these months, a long time ago. There is still a long, long, long time left.
“Let’s try to win tomorrow (against) a team that is so aggressive and fast in attack.”
Defender Kyle Walker, who signed a contract extension last week, said City’s players were hungry for more success despite winning multiple trophies in recent years.
“It comes from within to move forward,” he said. “Definitely, the hunger is still in the locker room on the part of the players and the coach. He (Guardiola) still wants to win more, he will not settle for second place and we have to follow in his footsteps.”
City will once again be without John Stones, Jack Grealish and Mateo Kovacic for the match against Red Star, European champions in 1991.