Manchester City kick off the Premier League season against Sunderland and Pablo Zabaleta believes Pep Guardiola’s strict regime will be key.

Pablo Zabaleta has his eye firmly fixed on the Champions League final in Pep Guardiola ‘s first season in charge of Manchester City .

The Argentine defender missed last term’s limp semi-final defeat to Real Madrid but believes the team have to learn from their performance in the Bernabeu, which he admits was far from their best.

Guardiola, hired partly to help City overcome their European stage fright, has won the competition once as a player and twice as a manager.

The Blues kick off their Champions League campaign on Tuesday when they face Steaua Bucharest in the first leg of the play-off.

And while Zabaleta acknowledges the importance of domestic matters, he believes continental glory is high on the agenda.

“The Champions League is one of the main targets for this club,” said Zabaleta. “Domestic competitions are also really important, to compete well and try to win as many trophies as we can every season.

“Last season in the Champions League it was good to reach the semi-finals for the first time but at the same time in the way we ended that competition at the Bernabeu was not our best performance.

We need to learn from that. In the Champions League when you play against the best teams you have to give your best and perform well enough to win that competition.

“We will keep working to improve every year and of course we need to make sure that next time if we reach a semi-final it is only one more step from the final so when you are at that stage and you play against the best teams you need to perform really well to beat them. I am sure we will improve.”

The Premier League takes centre stage this weekend as Guardiola takes charge of his first ever Premier League game, and he has tolerated no slacking in the preparation.


A strict regime off the pitch helps him achieve his trademark attractive style on it.

“He (Pep) likes discipline. Every day we have breakfast altogether and lunch altogether here at CFA,” added Zabaleta.

“We have a new nutritionist at the club to help us. You need to know what to eat or what is best for you. Apart from what happens on the pitch, off the pitch is very strict and he likes to have that discipline that as a team you need and I think it’s really good.

“Today in football you need to be 100% fit.

“You have to be a good professional. Many years ago it was different, players enjoyed going to the pub, having a few beers and rubbish stuff but today in football you have to look after yourself and be very focused on that.”