History was written in Manchester on Tuesday when City beat PSG 2-0 in the second leg of the semifinals to punch its ticket for the Champions League final. Last week, in Paris, The Citizens also won 2-1.

man city champions league
Manchester City’s players celebrate scoring a goal against PSG in the Champions League semifinals return leg. (Image: Twitter / @IlkayGundogan)

The final in Istanbul will be Manchester City’s first in the Champions League.

City won titles in England and made an impression with its often fascinating style. It was always a different story in Europe, though. After playing a semifinal in the Champions League in 2016, before Guardiola was appointed, City only managed three quarter-final appearances over the first four years of the “Pep Era.”

Guardiola (50) was hired by the multi-billionaire Arab owners at City to give the club a global dimension. Pep last conquered the Champions League in 2011 with Barcelona. The Catalan manager failed to repeat the performance at Bayern, where he next coached, and in Manchester.

Despite critics saying the massive investments into the team should have ensured City some European silverware by now, the club’s bosses never doubted Guardiola. Last November, his contract was extended through 2023. His five years at City are, so far, the most he’s ever spent in charge of a club. Pep previously coached Barcelona for four years (2008-2012) and Bayern for three (2013-2016).

Guardiola: ‘It’s not all about the money’

City knew how to suffer and delight at the same time. Qualification in front of Paris’ “galactic mission” led by Neymar never looked in doubt. On a cold, wet, and snowy night in Manchester, City played its cards to perfection. Both goals came from Mahrez, who also netted at Parc des Princes last week.

A delighted Guardiola passed all the credit to his players after the game. “What they have done this season is incredible,” he remarked. “It’s the toughest year for everyone. Being so close to winning the Premier League and in the final of the Champions League is so good.”

Guardiola went on to thank the players who helped the club go ‘to the next level’ through their work, past and present, also defending the strategy to invest big money since 2008, when Sheikh Mansour completed his takeover.

“Of course, we’ve invested money in the last decade, but it’s not just about this,” he said. “If you want to think it’s just about the money, it’s okay. But there is a lot of incredible things behind the scenes, a lot of people working, supporting, and a clear strategy to do it.”

Guardiola won two Premier League titles since being appointed and is on the verge of another triumph in England.

“To reach the Champions League final is so difficult. It’s the toughest one but we did it. We’ve had an incredible Champions League season and now we deserve to be there. We’re going to play the final.”

Chelsea or Real Madrid next for City

Man City will play the winner of Chelsea and Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 29 in Istanbul. The first leg in Madrid ended in a 1-1 draw, so Chelsea has a slight advantage going into the return leg at home on Wednesday evening. The bookies have Chelsea at -164 for going through, with Real Madrid at +120.

Man City is the favorite to win the Champions League at -227, not taking into account if they’ll play Real or Chelsea in the final. Chelsea is at +350 and Real at +600.

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