Kevin De Bruyne insists Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City MUST win the Champions League to be heralded as one of the best teams ever, as he says European glory will end criticism and change ‘the little narrative’
- Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne spoke ahead of Real Madrid second leg
- The Champions League trophy has eluded the club after losing last year’s final
- City have a one-goal lead from last week’s thriller heading into the Bernabeu tie
Lifting the Champions represents the final hurdle to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City being viewed as one of the all-time great teams, according to Kevin De Bruyne.
City have won eight major domestic trophies since 2018 and are looking to secure a fourth Premier League title in five years this month, but a crowning European triumph has eluded them.
Guardiola guided his side to a first Champions League final last year, losing against Chelsea, and De Bruyne recognises that for some, that prize needs to be in the club’s cabinet if they are to be heralded as one of the best in history.
Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne spoke ahead of their second leg against Real Madrid
‘I think winning it would change the perspective from the outside,’ De Bruyne said. ‘The fact we’ve been fighting for numerous years and getting to the latter stages means we’ve been doing really well.
‘[But] we’ve not won it yet and that will probably be the only criticism we can get. Winning it would change that little narrative.’
City take a one-goal lead to the Bernabeu for Wednesday night’s semi-final second leg after last week’s seven-goal classic. Real Madrid have since clinched the LaLiga title and a dumbfounded Guardiola was forced to deflect four mischievous questions about whether City would offer their hosts a guard of honour on Tuesday. ‘I don’t have an opinion on that,’ he said in a terse exchange.
Pressed again, Guardiola added: ‘I understand that you ask me something about the league, about Real Madrid becoming champions. As spokesman for this club, which is what I am, we congratulate them, but this is the Champions League.’
The City manager was given a boost by Kyle Walker, who is part of the travelling party after an ankle injury to ease their defensive issues, bit John Stones remains sidelined.
The prevailing feeling from both Real and City on Tuesday was to expect a similarly free-flowing encounter to the first leg – and De Bruyne believes they have the tools to navigate a way to consecutive finals.
Manchester City looked to have Real Madrid on the ropes in the opening period of the first leg last week and perhaps felt as though they could have all but ended the tie as a contest
‘If you look back at the way we performed over the years we have done really well,’ the central midfielder added.
‘We’ve been there loads of times and always fighting to win this competition so the consistency that we’ve had has been amazing – pretty much as good as everybody else. We just need to try to get over the line. Tomorrow is another step.
‘If we are a little bit below that there is the possibility that Madrid can win this game because they are also one of the best teams in the world. I back my team to perform at the level that is necessary to win that game tomorrow.’
City given a boost with Kyle Walker among the travelling party to ease their defensive issues
City emerged victorious here in the 2020 quarter-final, weeks before the pandemic hit, but Guardiola is wary of leaning on experience.
‘You are talking about the experience, but the question is what do you learn from this experience?’ he said. ‘If you don’t learn anything, you make the same mistakes. The fact is we have been in these big games, these scenarios, quite a lot in the last years.
‘When you think, “I have been there and I know how to handle the situation,” that helps but it is not a guarantee. Because we have been there before doesn’t mean that we are going to play good or perform well.
‘Probably we will have to play better [than last week]. But at the same time, I would like to tell you one thing: we can play much, much worse and win. Nobody can deny that my assessment is right. Nobody knows. Sometimes you get things you don’t deserve.’