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GUARDIOLA-MANCHESTER CITY MUST SEDUCE FANS ON CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DREAM

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City’s fans must mirror the passion his players have for the Champions League if European glory is to be achieved.

City entertain Group C leaders Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday, with both sides looking to build upon impressive victories over Shakhtar Donetsk and Atalanta respectively.

Guardiola’s men won four of their five home matches in Europe last term and are expected to again challenge for the silverware this season, but attracting fans to the Etihad Stadium for Champions League group matches has proved notoriously difficult.

Close to 15,000 seats were left unfilled for last September’s clash with Ligue 1 side Lyon, the sort of antipathy the manager sees as the result of the club’s historically long absence from continental competitions.

Former Barcelona boss Guardiola hopes to change the attitude of supporters, who he acknowledges are largely more concerned with success in the Premier League.

“That is a reality of our club. What can you do? Seduce them to be there so maybe they realise how important [the Champions League] is,” Guardiola said.
“I think in the past, the old generation were not there.

“At Liverpool and [Manchester] United with a lot of Champions League [experience], trophies, they are used to being there. We were at home, in the bars, watching Liverpool and United. Not for years, but decades. That is in the culture of the club.

“I have the feeling we are taking steps. I would not like to win the Champions League, be in the final and then disappear for the next five years. That would not be great.

“What is important is being there and trying to do it. We have tried in previous seasons, when I have had the feeling we are close. This competition is an incredibly high level. Everything can happen.

“The only way is to say to our fans ‘come on, come join us, make the stadium full and support us in the bad moments’ because these guys deserve it.
“These players are awesome, outrageous, so they deserve to feel that they want to win and make a step forward too. It’s not only the desire of the manager, the staff, chairman, people working at the club.

“We need the fans. It’s not only more difficult [without them], it’s almost impossible.”
City midfielder Rodri experienced the Champions League for the first time last season, making eight appearances for Atletico Madrid, and his view of Europe’s top competition does not align with that of the fans Guardiola referenced.

He said: “The Champions League, for me, is the greatest tournament.
“All the good clubs fight for it and it’s very tough. It’s going to be a good challenge for us. The team is very focused on this competition. We dream of this competition for many years.
“But we have to be patient, we have to focus.”

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