Pep Guardiola has urged his Manchester City side to make a statement in the Champions League this season. City became the first English team to win the domestic treble last season and finished with 98 points in the Premier League, having claimed the title with an unprecedented 100 point haul in the previous campaign.
However, Guardiola has never managed to take the Citizens beyond the quarter-finals of the Champions League and they have been eliminated at that stage in each of the last two seasons.
The Catalan coach, who won the Champions League twice during his spell as Barcelona boss, says his players must prove they have the quality to go all the way in Europe and feels success will come down to fine margins in the latter stages of the competition.
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“In this competition, you play against incredible players and if you give some team in one moment, a metre, they will score,” he told reporters. “We have to know that. “These little margins are sometimes the difference and we’re working on that. I believe this kind of situation is about the mentality. We’re good enough and we’re strong enough and when you play good, you defend less.”
City have made a perfect start to this season’s Champions League with six points from two games and are yet to concede.
Guardiola’s side take on Italian outfit Atalanta at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday and a victory would all-but secure a place in the knockout stages with three games to spare, but the true tests will come later in the competition.
City have twice been eliminated on the away goals rule in the Champions League during Guardiola’s time in charge.
The former Bayern Munich coach says his side have to focus on not conceding but warned that is “not a case of just defending well” and the Premier League champions will have to “play well in all departments” if they are to take the top prize in Europe this season.