Previous setbacks in the UEFA Champions League set Manchester City up to finally win the competition. It was a long odyssey for City to finally land European football’s most prestigious prize. At times it felt like it was always just out of reach for the current European champions.
Manchester City famously won the Champions League last season with a 1-nil win over Inter Milan in Istanbul. The win in last season’s final was the culmination of the club’s journey in the competition. While the treble winners had always been considered a favourite in each season’s competition they had to learn before they could run in the toughest of environments.
Under current manager Pep Guardiola City had seemingly found a new way to bow out of the competition. Defeats to Monaco and Tottenham on away goals featured classic contests but City falling short. Before winning last season City lost the 2021 final 1-nil to Chelsea. It was City’s first trip to the Champions League final and ended in defeat. In the 2022 semi-final stage of the competition Manchester City were minutes from making the final before a famous Real Madrid fightback saw the La Liga giants dump City out when the final beckoned.
But all of those setbacks laid the foundation for last season’s famous UEFA Champions League win. Manchester City learnt the lessons and used them to fuel their run to becoming European champions last campaign.
Speaking before his side takes on FC Copenhagen Pep Guardiola spoke of his club’s journey in the Champions League. He said: “When I arrived eight years ago I had the feeling maybe this competition was too much for us. Our defeats and bad moments helped us to grow up and being in the position we are — two finals and one semifinal in the last three years — the whole club has awareness that we can try to be ourselves. Before, I felt they were saying ‘Are you sure Pep? Are we ready to do it? Now the whole organisation believes we can do it.”
Manchester City’s Champions League journey and eventual success have set Pep Guardiola’s side up to defend the title this campaign. But they know the journey to do so will be difficult beginning against FC Copenhagen at the Parken Stadium tonight.