Man City’s season depends on the Super Cup, but it’s not just about winning.

Man City’s season depends on the Super Cup, but it’s not just about winning.

The goal for Pep Guardiola’s team against Sevilla is to win more hardware, but the match can also advance a more significant off-field objective for the club.

Never before has Manchester City reaped such a bounty from a win. Premature talk of trebles and quadruples has historically caused Pep Guardiola to become justifiably irritated. By losing the penalty shootout to decide the Community Shield, his team at least made sure the concept of the septuple was eliminated.

But this evening when City take the field in Piraeus, there is a trophy on the line for the fourth time in five games. There is a chance to write history in a historically significant location because Piraeus, once the main port of ancient Greece, frequently saw the passage of war booty.

The 23rd club to win the Champions League is City. They might win the Uefa Super Cup, making them the 25th. It is a diverse list; City’s current goal is not to ape Mechelen or Aberdeen, let alone Zenit St. Petersburg. There is evidence to support the claim that Sir Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen reached the pinnacle of their powers during that time. Aberdeen defeated Bayern Munich en route to the Cup Winners’ Cup final, Real Madrid in the final, and European Cup winners Hamburg in the Super Cup.

The Club World Cup, which confers the ultimate title, may not have the same significance for City. Instead, it was given to Liverpool in 2019 and Chelsea in 2021 because their previous European champions had failed to win it. Barcelona under Guardiola won twice, underscoring the idea of one exceptional team eking out an era of dominance. The fact that they beat Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk and are now playing Sevilla shows that Europa League champions always start out as underdogs.

However, the Super Cup can normalize the act of winning awards, as City did in England when the Carabao Cup initially felt like their exclusive fiefdom. If it’s important to recall, City was given a two-year Champions League ban in 2020, which Uefa later overturned. If that ban had been upheld, City would not likely be in Greece this week. It’s also important to remember that, as recently as 2020, City had won the English second division more frequently than the country’s top division.

The Super Cup is more than just a chance to catch up with Jesus Navas, whose longevity is such that he won it in 2006, as times have quickly changed and Saudi Arabia has replaced City as the more contemporary threat to the European aristocracy. If winning the Champions League was one accomplishment, City might be making another: winning the popularity race around the world.

23,000 supporters paid £20 each to watch them train in South Korea as part of their pre-season tour. In contrast to a few years ago, they were welcomed in Asia with euphoria rather than with more indifference. Maybe even the richest have to wait a while to win over new supporters. Erling Haaland may be a transformative player in the larger struggle for hearts and minds in a way that some of their other greats haven’t been in the markets where players command more loyalty and intrigue than clubs.

For a player of his caliber, Sergio Aguero’s profile was oddly low. David Silva wanted his to be so low that it was underground. Despite being a normal person with a gifted right foot, Kevin de Bruyne has always had an air of everyman.

Guardiola’s hiring practices have occasionally seemed so blatantly obstructionist to the business division. For two teams that are frequently grouped together for obvious reasons, City has occasionally appeared to be the anti-Paris Saint-Germain, forgoing superstars in favor of pricy defensively-minded personnel.

The center back Josko Gvardiol, who brings their roster up to six, is their biggest acquisition this summer. Given that De Bruyne is out, Kyle Walker, a trailblazer when the £50 million full-back was still a novelty, is likely to lead City in Athens. The Yorkshireman has shown that recovery speed can be one of the game’s most valuable assets.

Additionally, Guardiola felt some relief when a £62 million defensive midfielder from City won the Champions League. When Rodri arrived from Atletico Madrid, he seemed overpriced. He won both the Champions League and the Nations League player of the year awards four years later.

Guardiola once claimed that in order for De Bruyne to win the Ballon d’Or, City must win the Champions League; however, the self-effacing Belgian has never seemed to be particularly motivated by such talk. The claims of Rodri and Haaland may now be in conflict.

The Norwegian, who has a huge frame, long blonde hair, flamboyant fashion sense, and goal-scoring feats that are hardly credible, has emerged as the star player that City has long lacked. He has scored 54 goals overall, but none of them have come in championship games, such as the FA Cup, the Champions League, or, less significantly, the Community Shield. Without De Bruyne, Haaland might still have more responsibility. However, he scored twice against Sevilla the season before, just as he did on Friday against Burnley.

They scored four goals that evening. On Wednesday night, they might win their fourth trophy of the season.

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