LONDON: Pep Guardiola, despite the financial power of FC Bayern and then Manchester City, has not been a winner of the Champions Leahue since 2011 with Barcelona.
He has never progressed beyond even the quarter-finals with City and has a personal as well as a team target to achieve tonight against Borussia Dortmund.
City are looking more dangerous than ever. They hold the security of a comfortable lead in the Premier League and an unprecedented quadruple remains a possibility. They approach tonight’s home tie without any injury problems and with even top-scoring Sergio Aguero available after a season marred by injuries and illness.
The weekend saw City claim a solid 2-0 victory at third-placed Leicester in which Gabriel Jesus marked his 24th birthday with a goal in City’s 15th successive away win in all competitions. Benjamin Mendy scored the opening goal to place City 14 points clear of neighbours United with seven games left.
City have won 26 of their last 27 games but if they do fall short in any of their competitions – including the Champions League – then Guardiola will be blaming FIFA and UEFA.
Guardiola, who benched Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo, Ilkay Gundogan and John Stones at Leicester, said he had no option but to rotate his players.
He added: “UEFA and FIFA kill the players and it is too much. We haven’t had one midweek off since we started. They are human beings, not machines. The reason I rotate every game with six or seven players is because everybody is fit and because we have an incredible squad and I won’t let them play as much as possible.
“In this year, without spectators, with the shortest competition ever, we started later and will finish earlier. So if you don’t rotate you cannot be in the position we are now.”
Guardiola was particularly critical of the recent international break, with several of his players playing in three matches in the space of just over a week for their countries.
He said: “Some played three games, 90 minutes, 90 minutes and 90 minutes and they travel. They want to play because they have an incredible mentality but no player can play all the time physically or mentally and be ready every day to compete. It is impossible.”