Pep Guardiola has insisted it is becoming harder to progress into the latter stages of the Champions League compared to when he won it with his famous Barcelona side.
Guardiola steered the Catalan club to Champions League glory back in 2009 and 2011, his Lionel Messi inspired side widely considered as one of the greatest club teams of all time.
The former midfielder moved to Bayern Munich in 2013 and since to Manchester City, as both sides looked to get their hands on Europe’s biggest prize. So far though, Guardiola’s efforts have been to no avail, reaching the semi-finals in each of his three years in Bavaria while failing to make it beyond the last eight during his time in charge at the Etihad.
City were knocked out of the Champions League by underdogs Lyon in last season’s quarter-final, but speaking ahead of their group game against Olympiakos on Tuesday, Guardiola pointed to the greater standard of football across the continent as a reason why it is increasingly difficult to be crowned Champions of Europe
“More investment, more games, the manager prepares better, the teams know what they have to do,” said Guardiola at his pre-match press conference.
“Teams are better, there is more money everywhere, clubs are buying players and there are important managers. Last season we played Atalanta and they got close to the semi finals.
“People say Shakhtar Donetsk is easy, and now they win in Madrid and draw with Inter. It’s tough.”
City have started their Champions League campaign with two wins out of two before the visit of their Greek opponents, and Guardiola reckons wins in their remaining home games will guarantee passage to the knockout stages.
“You know in Europe you have to secure home games and win at least one away,” said Guardiola.
“We did it, winning in Marseille. But we know we have to secure points at home.
“We won the first two games. Porto was difficult and Marseille we handled so well and was in control. Now we have Olympiakos and we can leave them behind us and this is the target.”