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Guardiola optimistic of success in Europe for team

Manchester City aim to take another step closer on Tuesday to the one title that has eluded them – the Champions League.

Boss Pep Guardiola says he will be judged on success in the competition but does this year represent their best chance of becoming European champions?

“There’s not an outstanding team” in this season’s tournament says pundit Chris Sutton, while football journalist Rory Smith feels the competition is “not as daunting” as in previous years.

City, second in the Premier League, will secure a place in the quarter-finals if they win their last-16 second leg at home to RB Leipzig after a 1-1 draw in Germany.

Bayern Munich, Chelsea, AC Milan and Benfica are the teams already through, while Real Madrid hold a 5-2 advantage over Liverpool, with Italian sides Napoli and Inter Milan leading after their first-leg matches against Eintracht Frankfurt and Porto respectively.

Of the teams left in the competition, only Bayern, Napoli and Benfica are top of their domestic leagues.

The closest they have come to Champions League glory was when they reached the 2021 final, where they lost 1-0 to Chelsea.

A late fightback by Real Madrid prevented City returning to the final last season, but in Guardiola’s first four seasons at Etihad Stadium they failed to progress past the quarter-finals.

City were upset by French sides Monaco and Lyon, while suffering agonising exits against Premier League rivals Liverpool and Tottenham, with the latter coming after VAR played a big role in the outcome of a thrilling second leg at the Etihad.

In November, Guardiola, who won the Champions League twice as Barcelona coach, signed a two-year contract extension to 2025 and said he wanted “to stay and continue fighting for trophies”.

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