With the 2023/24 Premier League campaign now truly up and running, we have already had the first international break of the campaign and as top flight clubs head towards October, Champions League football returns for the first time this year and after last season’s successes, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side are back in action this week as they face off against Red Star Belgrade later this evening.
City came into the 2023/24 campaign having won 197 of Guardiola’s 266 Premier League games since he first arrived at the club, and as everyone in the wider world of football knows, City picked up an elusive Treble last year (Pep’s second Treble in the game) and importantly, this included their first, and long awaited, Champions League trophy, as they also snared the Premier League title again and the FA Cup. For those who like a flutter, premier league betting odds, will still heavily favour another City title this year, particularly given the start they have had.
Big things are expected from the side again this season and even though they had a small partial rebuild over the summer, five games into year they have five straight victories and have already established a league goal difference of eleven to put themselves back at the top of the table, with a two point advantage over their nearest chasers already.
With Europe back on the cards this week, in his most recent round of press interviews, whilst thoroughly delighted with their Champions League win last year, he knows they have not yet achieved ‘anything special’ but if they can hold onto the trophy this year and mount a successful defence of the title, that would be a different story.
“It’ll be easier. The hardest to win is the first one. For our club to win the Champions League is incredible, but in perspective, how many won one Champions League? A lot. We haven’t done anything special with just one, but we are incredibly proud.”
Guardiola went on to admit that he had not yet watched their Champions League Final victory over Inter Milan out in Istanbul back yet, and with how quickly he made that reveal in the interview, it did not sound like he would be watching it any time soon either.
“I didn’t watch the game, not at all. I had the feeling they were a strong team. They proved it. It was a tight game, but they showed how strong they are and they are a candidate again.”
England right back, 33 year old Kyle Walker, was also briefly in front of the media during the build up to the game, insisted the players would not be side tracked by their success last season and that they would simply treat the game, and the competition, exactly the same as they would any other one and not let thoughts of a title defence distract them. Fresh from signing his new contract extension at the Etihad Stadium last week, Walker explained.
“What we’ve done is in the past now, it’s a new season. The manager drew a diagram and had us at the bottom of the mountain and we have to climb it again. Going again is what separates good teams from great teams.”
Alongside Serbian side Red Star Belgrade, City are joined in their Group G battle by German club RB Leipzig and Swiss side Young Boys. It would take a woeful turn of form from the serial winners for them to not top the group and then progress through to the knockout stages of the competition, many would in fact expect that journey to be quite easy given the talent at their disposal.