First it was the turn of Manchester City who were dumped out of the Champions League at the quarter final stage against Lyon. A few days later their bitter rivals Manchester United followed suit losing 2-1 against Sevilla in the semi-finals of the Europa League. It’s fair to say that it’s been a bleak week for English football in Europe especially as Wolves exited the Europa League too. But it hasn’t been a good week for football in Manchester either.
Manchester City’s defeat means that they finished the season by ‘only’ winning the Carabao Cup. For a club of its size and budget that return marks a failed season and manager Pep Guardiola will know this. City were supposed to make light work of French club Lyon and advance to the semi-finals. But it was easy to tell early on in the game that Lyon had City’s number.
City remained with the threats and had the superior technical skill but Lyon had the pace of the game in the bag. They could slow it down when they wanted and their tactic of a 3-5-2 worked to perfection.
Moussa Dembele ended the game as the hero as he scored 2 goals which killed the game off and his redemption seems complete after his talents have largely been ignored by the Premier League. In France the media were all over Houssem Aouar. He was deemed as being all over the pitch and always in the right places and was named man of the match for most publications with a 9/10. Aouar has been on the fringes of the French team and these type of performances will only do him good, and he is still only 22 so has that chance.
As for City Guardiola said he has no excuses and that the better team won, but this loss would have been a big blow to him. Having said that with Bayern Munich waiting in the semi finals one wonders if it was light escape for City, it will be interesting to see how Lyon fare against the German team who look incredible.
For Manchester United their sheer momentum and confidence as the Premier League wrapped up simply wasn’t enough to get them past the line and into what would have been a surprise Europa League final. The problem for United is that there doesn’t seem to be a plan b and that is why even though on the night they were better than Sevilla they couldn’t get past them. The Spanish team who have won the Europa League on 5 occasions from the past 15 years may well add to that record.
All in all it has been a disappointing season for the Manchester clubs. City have lost their title to Liverpool and the one trophy they want- the Champions League- continues to elude them. As for United, they finished the season very well and that was good enough to play in the Champions League next season, a major plus point, but they have a long way to go to get back to the top.
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