Can Manchester City bounce back from Champions League heartache again?

Can Manchester City bounce back from Champions League heartache again? Pep Guardiola has failed in Europe for more than a decade but history suggests he makes up for it with huge domestic success – and that’s bad news for Liverpool

  • Manchester City endured more Champions League heartbreak again this season
  • Boss Pep Guardiola has failed to conquer Europe in his six-year spell at Man City
  • The Spaniard also couldn’t win the trophy at Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich
  • Guardiola, 51, has not tasted success since Barcelona days over a decade ago
  • Here, Sportsmail looks at how Guardiola’s sides response from Euro heartache

After yet another heartbreaking exit from the Champions League for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, it has now been over a decade since the Spaniard tasted success in Europe.  

But does history suggest more title success as the Premier League race with Liverpool goes to the wire, with City level on points at the top with one game in hand and having just four matches left to be played?

The 51-year-old won Europe’s top prize twice in his early days at Barcelona in 2009 and 2011,  along with LaLiga titles.

The European Cup, however, has eluded him ever since despite exciting runs and trophy-laden spells with both Bayern Munich and Manchester City. 

Here’s how his sides usually respond to a Champions League exit – and it often results in silverware. 

It has been over a decade since Pep Guardiola has tasted success in the Champions League

He has failed in Europe during trophy-laden spells with Bayern Munich and Manchester City


Guardiola set himself a huge task, having won the Champions League along with the LaLiga in his first season in charge of Barcelona.

The Catalan giants failed to win it back-to-back as they exited in the semi-finals to Italian giants Inter Milan 3-2 on aggregate – despite a 1-0 win at home in the second leg after losing 3-1 at the San Siro.

Barca got right back on track with a 4-1 victory over Villarreal in LaLiga and they went on to win a second consecutive Spanish title by just a mere three points over rivals Real Madrid.

Guardiola bounced back by winning LaLiga after a semi-final exit to Inter Milan in 2009/10


Barcelona at the time were a team hailed as one of the greatest of all-time and heavily backed to win the Champions League once again after winning the season prior.

The defending champions came unstruck against Chelsea in the semi-finals with the Blues sealing a 1-0 win in the first leg at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea sat deep defending for their lives at the Nou Camp in the second leg before John Terry was sent off near the end of the first half.

The Catalan giants had a 2-1 lead on the night as the game entered its latter stages and continued to lay siege to the Chelsea goal in search of a vital third that would negate the visitors’ away-goal advantage.

However, Fernando Torres dribbled the ball around Victor Valdes in the 92nd minute to send Chelsea into the final.  

Guardiola managed to rally his troops and thrash Rayo Vallecano 7-0 the weekend after that defeat before then going on to win the Spanish Cup later that season.

Guardiola and his Barcelona side rallied to win the Spanish Cup after semi-final loss to Chelsea


Guardiola departed Barca in 2012, therefore didn’t take part in the Champions League during the 2012/13 season, but was soon back with Bayern Munich the following season.

He took over from Jupp Heynckes, who had led Bayern to Champions League glory the previous year, but he was unable to defend the crown as the Bavarians were unceremoniously dumped out in the semis by Real Madrid.

They lost 5-0 on aggregate after a 4-0 thrashing at home in the second leg.

The Bundesliga giants bounced back that weekend with a huge 4-1 victory over Hamburg before winning the league title by 15 points while also winning the German Cup and the UEFA Super Cup.

After being thrashed by Real Madrid, Guardiola won the Bundesliga and German Cup in 2014


The Spaniard suffered a second consecutive semi-final exit, but this time to his former club Barcelona, as they were blown out of the water in the first leg.

Barca scored three late goals to blaze into a 3-0 aggregate lead after the first leg at the Nou Camp – a game best remembered for Messi causing Jerome Boateng to crumble into a heap in the build-up to the second goal.

Bayern then salvaged some pride by fighting back to win the second leg 3-2 at the Allianz Arena but it wasn’t enough.

Guardiola failed to help his side bounce back from that defeat as they lost 2-1 to Freiburg in their next fixture, but they had already won the Bundesliga, and crashed out of the German Cup in the semi-finals that year.

The Spaniard won the Bundesliga after a Champions League exit to his former club Barcelona


For a three year in a row, Guardiola could only go as far as the semi-finals with Bayern, as they crashed out to Atletico Madrid on away goals.

Diego Simeone’s side scrapped to a 1-0 win in the first leg in Spain and then just about held firm in the fractious return fixture, losing 2-1 to Bayern but advancing on away goals on a night in which both sides missed penalties.

Bayern responded with a 2-1 victory over Ingolstadt in the Bundesliga as they yet again secured the league title.

Later in the month, they also sealed a dramatic win over Borussia Dortmund to win the German Cup, before Guardiola decided to depart Munich for a new challenge at Manchester City in the Premier League. 

Guardiola won both the Bundesliga and German Cup after a semi-final exit to Atletico Madrid


The last-16 tie against French side Monaco looked to be a dream one and even started out that way with a 5-3 win at the Etihad, although the three away goals were cause for concern for Guardiola.

The mastermind manager opted to stuff his team full of attackers in desperation to score an away goal to help their progress, but instead shipped three early goals in the second leg, before eventually getting the away goal he craved.

The exit was heavily criticised and City followed it with a fun and chance-filled 1-1 draw against Liverpool, as two entertaining but defensively flawed sides consolidated their top-four spots behind Chelsea and Spurs.

But Guardiola failed to take to life at City in his first year as he failed to win any silverware. 

Manchester City lost on away goals to French side Monaco in the last-16 back in 2016/17


It was a step further the following season, but once again Guardiola couldn’t take City to the promised land in his second, as they crashed out in the quarter-finals to Premier League rivals Liverpool 5-1 on aggregate.

A heavy 3-0 defeat away at Anfield in the first leg left them with too much work to do and they even lost the second leg 2-1 at the Etihad to send them packing.

City bounced back well in the Premier League with a 3-1 win away to Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham, who were on a 14-match unbeaten league run. 

A slightly iffy penalty helped City into an early 2-0 lead before Christian Eriksen pulled one back against the run of play just before half-time. 

Spurs threatened to complete the comeback before Gabriel Jesus secured the points and took City 16 points clear of second-placed Manchester United, whose defeat to West Brom the following day would confirm the title for Pep’s side.

The Citizens had already won the League Cup earlier in the season to make it a successful one under Guardiola – despite the Champions League failure. 

City sealed the league title comfortably in 2017/18 after a quarter-final exit to Liverpool


This exit was especially disappointing as it was against a fellow Premier League side, and one they had beaten on each of their previous three meetings too. 

Spurs won the first leg at their brand-new stadium thanks to a Son Heung-min goal which ultimately proved vital after City sealed a thrilling 4-3 win over the north London side in the second leg at the Etihad.

To make matters even worse, City thought they had pulled off a terrific comeback in the 94th minute when a Raheem Sterling goal sent the stadium into raptures, only for it to be disallowed by VAR for offside.  

In revenge City had to face Spurs in the league that weekend where they sealed a 1-0 win thanks to Phil Foden. 

Guardiola’s side appeared to use that defeat as fuel to go on to win a domestic treble as they won the Premier League and FA Cup after already winning the League Cup earlier in the campaign. 

Guardiola completed a domestic treble by winning the league and FA Cup after Spurs exit


Perhaps Guardiola’s biggest disappointment in Europe, with everyone expecting City to comfortably breeze past French side Lyon in the quarter-finals.

However, that was not to be the case as they lost 3-1 in a one-off clash, which was reduced to a single-leg knockout game in order to minimise travel and risk during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

That ‘tournament format’ finish to the 2020 Champions League took place behind closed doors in Lisbon in August, which meant City’s next competitive match wasn’t actually until the delayed start of the following Premier League season in September.

Much like Guardiola has done on most occasions after Champions League heartbreak, he guided his side to a win, as they beat Wolves 3-1. 

City’s defeat by Lyon in the quarter-finals was a huge disappointment for Guardiola


The one that got away, the real chance for Guardiola to get his hands on the Champions League trophy for the first-time since the 2010/11 season and the first time in City’s history.

Guardiola’s side were the heavily backed favourites against Chelsea in the final in Porto as he named an attack-minded starting line-up.

A goal from Kai Havertz proved to be the difference and cost City a golden chance of lifting Europe’s prestigious trophy.

To add salt to the wounds with the Champions League final being the last game of the season, they had to stew in their failure, and it didn’t get much better on their return as they missed out on yet more silverware as they lost 1-0 to FA Cup holders Leicester in the Community Shield.

It was then a disappointing defeat to Spurs on the opening day of the 2021/22 season. 

City missed out on the Champions League with a 1-0 defeat to rivals Chelsea in the final 


Manchester City and Liverpool have been praised as the two best teams in the world at present and therefore it appeared all set for the two to meet in the Champions League final.

City’s late capitulation in the Spanish capital will stick in the memory, however.

Much of the damage was done in the first leg when they scored four goals but also missed a host of other chances that could have ended the tie as a contest at the Etihad.

They lost 6-5 on aggregate, but must now remain focused with a Premier League title charge still on the cards.

Guardiola’s side return to action against Newcastle on Sunday with just four matches left this season.

And they will do so having been boosted by Liverpool’s failure to beat Tottenham on Saturday night, making City big favourites to win the title yet again. 

Guardiola’s City capitulated to exit the Champions League with a semi-final loss to Real Madrid

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