Are Manchester City Looking Good for the Champions League?

Manchester City have been the kings of English football for the last few seasons. They have gone from mediocrity to one of the most wealthy and successful clubs in the English Premier League in just a decade.

After returning to top flight football in 2002, following a few years in the lower echelons of English football, they were bought by Sheikh Mansour in 2008 for £210 million. They quickly began to acquire top talent and won their first ever Premier League title in the 2011/12 season. This was then followed by titles in 2013/14, 2017/18 and 2018/19.

Despite this success and becoming the first team to score 100 points (during the 2017/18 season), City’s owners are not content with just success in English football. They also want the team to become the “kings of European football”, meaning they are desperate to win the UEFA Champions League.

This persistent desire was confirmed by manager Pep Guardiola as he described success in England, but not in Europe, as “hitting a ceiling”. It’s easy to see why—four Premier League titles (one with 100 points) and a domestic treble are a pretty definitive demonstration that you have not only reached the top of English football but have also rewritten the history books with multiple records.

However, the story is completely different in Europe as City have not won European silverware since they won the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup way back in 1969/70. This is made worse by the fact the Blues have regularly qualified for the Champions League (in fact every year) for the last nine seasons but have not made it beyond the semi-final.

Looking Strong in 2019/20?

While the team has not officially confirmed it, City seem to have spent this year focusing on trying to win the Champions League. They sit third in the Premier League table, 14 points behind Liverpool, having lost 5 games already at the season’s halfway point.

Meanwhile, City have performed better in Europe. Of the 6 matches in Group C for the Champions League, City didn’t lose a single game, winning four and getting two draws against Shakhtar Donetsk and Atalanta. In doing so, they scored twice as many points as their second-place rivals.

Only 3 teams in the entire competition scored more points than City. After a strong performance in the group stages, they are through to the Round of 16, where they will face Real Madrid. The game will be quite evenly-matched, with oddsmakers giving similar odds, although SkyBet currently has Real Madrid slightly ahead at 7/4, as compared to City’s 6/4.

Format Going Against Them?

Although the title is not guaranteed, after several victories in late December, football pundits began to predict that Liverpool were going to win the Premier League this season. City are far behind. Unless Liverpool collapse, then the title will end up at Anfield while City are left to focus on the domestic cups and the Champions League.

However, in the Champions League, success rides on performance in just a handful of games. Victory in the round of 16 counts for nothing if you get knocked out in the quarter finals. Therefore, City’s chances of victory rely on both external (who the opponents are, referee decisions, eetc) and internal (their own performance) factors. In a league, a loss against a better side can be offset with several wins against other teams. In a knockout tournament, being drawn against a difficult side reduces yours odds of victory.

Therefore, the draw against Real Madrid could go against them and put their dreams of being the kings of Europe on hold for another year. If they’re able to overcome the odds and put in a stellar performance across both legs, then there is a chance that they could make it all the way.

If they do beat Real Madrid in March, then their opponents in the quarter-finals will also be decided by a draw, meaning it is not yet possible to predict whom they will be against or how far they will go in Europe. This means they could face teams like Tottenham or RB Leipzig—teams they would stand a greater chance of beating. However, it also means they could face Juventus, PSG, Liverpool, or Bayern Munich- a much tougher opposition.

Overall, Manchester City do still stand a good chance of being crowned kings of Europe in 2020, but a lot will be riding on the two games against Real Madrid. The pressure will be on for both matches, and Pep Guardiola will need to make sure his men don’t crack.

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