Pep Guardiola insists his eyes are not on the big Champions League prize – despite living with the constant expectation that he must win it.
Guardiola’s Manchester City eased into the quarter-finals for a fourth successive year as they completed a comfortable victory in their last-16 tie against Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday.
Early goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan were enough for dominant City to claim a 2-0 win in the second leg at the Puskas Arena in Budapest, wrapping up a 4-0 aggregate success.
The Champions League is the one major trophy that has eluded Guardiola in his time at City but, with three others also within his reach this season, he is not looking too far ahead yet.
“Since the first year I arrived they told me that you have to win the Champions League,” said City boss Guardiola, who won Europe’s elite club competition twice as Barcelona manager.
“It is always on our shoulders but I’m not concerned about that. If you deserve it in football, you go through. If you don’t, you don’t.
“I’m not thinking ‘get to the semi-finals’. I’m thinking to do a good first game and a good second game. When you are thinking about what you are going to win, you forget what you have to do – analyse the opponent, our shape, the way we want to play, our principles, and trying to do a good game. This is all I am concerned with.
“But, saying that, I’m more than incredibly impressed and delighted for our players in this tough year for everyone in society – being 14 points clear in the Premier League, in the final of the Carabao Cup, quarter-final of the Champions League and going to play to get to the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
“This is more than winning one quarter-final or one last-16 game. It means that in nine to 10 months, every three days, you are there – and this is the best title you can get.
“Of course for the prestige for all of us, because we are here to win like all other clubs, we have to try in the end to lift some titles.”
City already had one foot in the last eight before they returned to the Hungarian capital to complete the job they started against Monchengladbach at the same venue three weeks ago.
But any doubts were quickly erased as they stormed ahead with a stunning strike from De Bruyne after 12 minutes and a second through Gundogan following a brilliant run by Phil Foden six minutes later.
Monchengladbach, who have now lost seven in succession since it was announced coach Marco Rose would leave for Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund in the summer, were simply outclassed.
To their credit, the German side did try to play positively but they were never able to seriously trouble City goalkeeper Ederson.
City’s quadruple challenge will continue as they head to Everton in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on Saturday.
Guardiola said: “A few weeks ago we were there (at Goodison Park) and we struggled and fought a lot to win and this will be no exception because it is a ‘final’.
“But it’s an incredible step to get to the semi finals of the FA Cup and we’ll prepare and be ready for that.
“We are playing good in terms of what we want. We are doing it well and hope we can continue on Saturday.”