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Why Man City could defend UCL, but another treble is unlikely - ESPN

Pep Guardiola is a difficult man to read. The Manchester City manager can often betray a sense of false modesty, suggesting that incredible achievements are beyond his team before watching his players do what he had initially said would be impossible. Last season's treble success was a prime example of that.

Perhaps Guardiola is simply adopting the same old «mind games» that most successful bosses deploy in an attempt to ease the pressure on their teams and dial down levels of expectation. But when a top manager plays down the chances of winning, nobody quite believes them.

Yet with City resuming the defence of their Champions League title when they face FC Copenhagen in Denmark on Tuesday in the round-of-16 first leg, Guardiola has emphatically ruled out the prospect of the Premier League champions repeating last year's treble triumph.

— Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

«This is a fairy tale, it's more complicated than that,» he said last week. «We have a 99.99% possibility that we are not going to win the treble because never, never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever has anyone done it. If it was easy, another team — Manchester United in that time — would do it again. It's not easy. Everything is so difficult in this business, what we did in the past doesn't guarantee anything.»

False modesty again, or a case of Guardiola giving everyone connected with City a cold dose of reality?

The truth is that Guardiola might be right. Since the start of the Champions League era in 1992, seven teams, including City, have achieved the treble of domestic league, domestic cup and Champions League. To date, none of them have backed it up by repeating the feat 12 months later.

In 1999-2000, Sir Alex Ferguson's treble