The last 16 of the Champions League has ceased to be a problem for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Only Kylian Mbappe’s Monaco, in Guardiola’s first season at the Etihad Stadium, have knocked them out at this point in the competition during his tenure. Since then, Basel, Schalke and Real Madrid have all fallen victim.
Now, Borussia Monchengladbach stand between them and the quarter-finals. The first leg of this tie will be played at the Puskas Arena in Budapest due to COVID-19 restrictions in Germany.
“It’s always the same process. First we think about Gladbach, then West Ham… step by step. We are in the Champions League, a competition in which you can lose in 20 minutes. They are solid and very dangerous,” said Guardiola.
City have not lost in 25 games in all competitions and have won 18 in a row. They have not lost a game since losing 2-0 in their visit to Tottenham Hotspur on November 21, a perfect trajectory which has seen them go ten points clear of Manchester United at the top of the Premier League, while they have also reached the final of the Carabao Cup and the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
“People talk and talk about records and triumphs, but to do this you have to win in these types of matches many times. Winning always by three or four goals is impossible,” Pep said after beating Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium last weekend.
They are now just nine wins off the record of 27 set by Welsh club The New Saints in 2016/17.
“It is exciting and brilliant for the club. Until a month ago we did not think about it. Football is about winning trophies, but all the players wanted to break a milestone,” said TNS coach Craig Harrison, whose side surpassed the previous record set by Ajax in 1971/72.
Guardiola has already achieved the record for the most wins in a row in LaLiga Santander, the Bundesliga and the Premier League with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City respectively.
“[This record] show how special these players are. There is no bigger secret than preparing for the next game,” Pep said after breaking the run for consecutive wins by an English top-flight club.
“They have won 18 official matches in a row. For me, there is no need to explain this streak. City are just a very good team,” said Gladbach defender Oscar Wendt.
“We have a coach who always finds the right solutions and tactics. The mentality, the hard work in training, the confidence… all of that leads us to an incredible trajectory,” said Ilkay Gundogan.
The German international is City’s top scorer with 13 goals, including 10 in these 18 wins.