The Citizens take on Real Madrid in the semi-final first-leg at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday evening, with the reverse fixture set to be played on May 4. This is the second time Guardiola has guided the Sky Blues to this stage of the competition after beating Paris Saint-Germain last season.
However, City were unable to win the final as Chelsea ran out 1-0 winners in Porto thanks to Kai Havertz’s first-half strike. The Champions League is the only major trophy Guardiola has failed to secure at the club, having lifted three Premier League titles, one FA Cup and four League Cups.
With City now into the final four of the competition, Cole has claimed Guardiola could reach the level of legendary manager Ferguson should he lift the trophy in May. The Scottish boss won 24 major trophies during his 26-year stint at United, including 13 Premier League titles and the Champions League twice.
“The Champions League has eluded Manchester City over the last few years,” Cole told bookmakers.co.uk. “They have a tough game in this year’s semi-final with Real Madrid. Could it be the season they finally do it? It could well be. “When you try to win the European Cup, you need a little bit of luck to go your way.”
“Yes, I would believe that Pep Guardiola has to win the Champions League to achieve that status,” Cole said when asked if the City boss needed another victory in the competition to be thought of in the same category as Sir Alex Ferguson. “Pep Guardiola is such a brilliant manager with what he has achieved in the game and by all accounts, he’s a fantastic manager to work for.”
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Cole went on to reiterate his belief that teams win Champions League trophies, not individuals, and pointed to Real Madrid ‘s success this season as proof that the sum is often greater than the parts.
“It’s not a case of man for man when you look at the squads,” the 1999 Champions League winner explained. It’s how they perform as a team out on the pitch. Especially, with what Real Madrid have done this season. I don’t believe anyone expected Madrid to get to the semis, but they pulled it out. All these clubs want the same thing. It should be a really good tie though.”
In the other semi-final, Liverpool – who are aiming to win the trophy for the seventh time – face La Liga side Villarreal. This means City could take on the Reds for the fourth time this season after playing each other twice in the league and once in the FA Cup.