Pep Guardiola, the manager of Manchester City, was left “emotionally destroyed” after his team’s impressive victory over Bayern Munich. This result puts them one step closer to the Champions League semi-finals. Guardiola has achieved a lot of success domestically, but his legacy will ultimately be judged on whether or not he can win Europe’s elite club competition. He has already won it twice with Barcelona, but City have been unable to replicate this success in the past. Last year they were eliminated by Real Madrid in the semi-finals, and the year before they were beaten by Chelsea in the final.
This season, however, feels different. Bayern are a dangerous and quality side, but City’s force of will and quality was too much for them. Guardiola admitted that he aged a decade during the match, and Bayern seemed happy to prevent any further damage rather than try to score a goal that would give them a lifeline for the second leg.
City had to fight for an hour before they found their stride and looked like a team capable of winning the Champions League. They could still face Real Madrid in the semi-finals if they overcome Chelsea, and Napoli will be a tough test for anyone. City’s performance was impressive, as they defended with determination and Erling Haaland scored two goals. His arrival was meant to help City get on the right side of the fine margins that have often thwarted them in the Champions League, and he did just that.
Ruben Dias was back to his outstanding best in defence, Nathan Ake continued his stellar season, Rodri controlled the engine room and Bernardo Silva scored a vital goal. Jack Grealish’s lung-busting effort was also key, as he pinched possession from Dayot Upamecano in the build-up to the second goal.
The fact that City had to fight for supremacy against Bayern for so long and did so successfully will only add to their belief that their time has finally come. They look like the complete package, with Haaland’s fear-striking presence and goals giving them an extra cutting edge. Guardiola cut an agitated figure throughout the match, but he must have been highly satisfied with the result. It was a night that had its tough times, but ultimately turned out perfectly for Guardiola and City. They are favourites for the Champions League once again.