Does Guardiola need another Champions League win to join the greats?

For many, Pep Guardiola has already pulled up a seat and positioned himself at world soccer’s top table. Given all that he has achieved in the coaching game, some are happy for him to rub shoulders with the very best to have ever occupied a dugout.

It is difficult to argue against such a standing, with domestic title and cup successes enjoyed on Spanish, German and English soil. Guardiola has certainly been no one-trick pony, as Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City will happily testify.

Triumphs


There is, however, no escaping the fact that European triumphs have proved hard to come by. At the moment, Champions League betting has Premier League title holders City at +163 to claim the ultimate prize for 2022-23. Champions League tips have been weighted in the Blues’ favor before, though, only for continental lines to be fluffed when the going gets tough.

City did make it all the way to the final in 2021, with stars appearing to align for them at one stage, but Chelsea proved to be one hurdle too far and Guardiola once again found himself hitting the deck after suffering an unfortunate stumble.

Not since 2011 has he been able to get across that particular line. Back then, the presence of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta at Barcelona ensured that the Catalan giants could probably have dragged somebody off the streets, handed them a clipboard and still walked off with an enviable collection of major honors.

The same is true of the Bayern side that Guardiola took under his wing, with it hardly the most arduous of tasks to get a tune out of Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Manuel Neuer. Yes, somebody had to get the tiki-taka moving, but established superstars would have figured it out themselves eventually.

The fact that Guardiola has been unable to deliver European glory alongside numerous trophy wins on home soil forms an annoying stick that continues to be poked in his direction. He admits to having complicated matters at times in a bid to bring a surprisingly barren run to a close, saying: “In the Champions League I always overthink. I always create new tactics and ideas. I overthink a lot. I love to overthink and create stupid tactics and, when we don’t win, I am punished.”

Others have also pointed out that such patience is unlikely to have been shown to them had they failed to deliver on ultimate targets quite so often, with former Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino saying: “If [I left] PSG for not winning the Champions League, Guardiola should have already been sacked seven or eight times! These are different realities.”

Faith

City’s current coach is unable to ignore the reality of the situation that he currently faces, with considerable faith continuing to be shown in him after committing to a new contract at the Etihad Stadium.

There is every reason to believe that he will be allowed to see that agreement out, taking him through to 2025, but is there a case for arguing that in order for him to have cemented a place among the all-time greats by then, another Champions League winners’ medal will need to have been added to his collection?

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