Pep Guardiola has challenged Manchester City to prove that they belong at the elite level in the Champions League.
Having failed to get beyond the last-16 in four previous attempts, City reached the semi-finals in Europe’s premier competition under Manuel Pellegrini last term.
They departed 1-0 on aggregate after two uninspiring legs against eventual winners Real Madrid and a fourth-place finish in the Premier League means they must now overcome Steaua Bucharest in a play-off to reach the competition proper.
Ahead of Tuesday’s first-leg in Romania – his second competitive game at the helm – City boss Guardiola told BT Sport: “I know how important it is for the club to be in the Champions League; now we are not in the Champions League.
“The way to go to the Champions League with the big clubs in Europe is to play with passion, with love in our games and our job.
“Manchester City reaching the semi-finals for the first time in history was a huge achievement.
“When you achieve something, okay, the next step is to achieve above.
“But in the Champions League and in Europe, Manchester City do not have a big, big history.
“It was just the first time [reaching the semi-finals]. You have to see if it was just once or if now it is our level.”
Ex-Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach Guardiola anticipates the latter outcome in time, even if he accepts the early days of his reign may see City repeat some of the inconsistencies evident during Saturday’s 2-1 Premier League win over Sunderland.
“[After Barcelona] I went to Germany with another club where you have to win. I know that feeling. From 13, 14 years old I live with that,” he added.
“I need to feel this pressure, the people demanding that you have to win.
“I know, from my experience, it is not easy. In the beginning it will be tough. Maybe we will not have success and it will be difficult.
“But I am pretty sure, at the end, that we will have the success.”
Guardiola once again selected Willy Caballero ahead of England goalkeeper Joe Hart in his starting XI at the Arena Nationala.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!