x

Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Kevin de Bruyne: Champions League title not vital for Man City success

City won last season's Premier League in record fashion but were eliminated from the Champions League by domestic rivals Liverpool at the quarter-finals stage

Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, centre, has missed the start of the season with injury. Reuters
Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, centre, has missed the start of the season with injury. Reuters

Kevin de Bruyne has said a successful season for Manchester City will be winning back-to-back Premier League titles rather than the Uefa Champions League as the European competition does not demand the same level of consistency to win it.

De Bruyne was pivotal to Pep Guardiola's record-breaking team last term that saw them set several Premier League records. The 27-year-old Belgian playmaker's eight goals and 16 assists helped City clinch the title by a margin of 19 points and also become the first English top-flight club to reach 100 points in a season. City also won the League Cup in February following a 3-0 victory over Arsenal in the final.

No team has successfully defended the Premier League title since Manchester United in 2009.

The Champions League, however, has eluded City's grasp with the high-flying side falling in the semi-finals in 2016 and knocked out by league rivals Liverpool in the quarter-finals last term.

_____________

Read more:

Richard Jolly: Arrizabalaga, Alisson and rise of goalkeeper fees a sign of changes in modern football

Pep Guardiola keen to solve Raheem Sterling contract saga at Manchester City

Steve Luckings: Return to fitness of Mendy feels like a new signing for Manchester City

In pictures: Sterling and Richarlison make the Premier League team of the week

Steve Luckings: Guardiola 'privileged' to manage City as champions lay down marker to title rivals

_____________

"I don't agree that we have to win the Champions League to be a success. It is a big title to win but in the Champions League you don't need to have the consistency that you need in the league," De Bruyne told the BBC.

"We were great for the whole year, maybe a bit less against Liverpool, and so we were out. It is a tournament, you need to be good at the right time.

"In the league if you have a bad spell then you are running behind. It is a different prospect, cup games are different to a league."

Liverpool hold something of a hex over the champions with City winning just one of the last five meetings between the sides, a 5-0 win at home early last season in which Liverpool forward Sadio Mane was sent off early in the game.

De Bruyne believes that Liverpool, who have strengthened significantly in the transfer window, will lead the challenge to de-throne City, along with the rest of the top six, this season.

"The main focus is on us. The other teams are always going to push us, Liverpool did what we did last year. They have spent a lot of money but wisely," De Bruyne added.

"They needed some additions and they have got them in the right places. They saw that they had to up the level to come closer to us and we are trying to maintain what we have done last year.

"It will be a good battle between the top sides."

City and Liverpool got their Premier League campaigns off to winning starts on Sunday. De Bruyne started on the bench before being introduced as a second-half substitute as Arsenal were dispatched 2-0 by Guardiola's side with Liverpool routing West Ham United 4-0 in the earlier kick off.