When Manchester City fans heard the news that Pep Guardiola was appointed their new manager, they must have felt that the Champions League was heading their way sooner rather than later. After all, their owners’ long term goal has been to establish the team as European heavyweights.
But could European success come sooner than expected?
Since the big announcement was made, current City manager Manuel Pellegrini’s head seems to have dropped in domestic action. After all, the Citizens boss has done little wrong during his time at the club, winning the Premier League at the first time of asking as well as two League Cups. But, European competition has seemingly alluded the club, that is possibly until now.
Out of all the English clubs, City have the best chance this season. Chelsea have already been knocked out by Paris Saint-Germain, and it looks highly unlikely that Arsenal will get past what looks to be one of the best Barcelona sides in years. Meanwhile City are sitting comfortably 3-1 ahead on aggregate against Dynamo Kiev, and if the next round’s tie is kind, they could easily make a claim for a place in the semi-final.
City this season finished top of their group, ahead of last season’s finalists Juventus, though they could not beat them in the group stage. But, considering they made it through the group, something they have struggled to do that consistently in their time in the competition, shows that they are going in the right direction.
Juve were, after all, the only team in the group City couldn’t beat, which highlights how much they have progressed under Pellegrini. When you see who is left in the competition, City are one of the better teams, and with their recent form in Europe they could even give teams such as PSG, Real Madrid, Juventus and Bayern Munich a run for their money.
The acquisitions of Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, as well as keeping hold of Sergio Aguero have been some of City’s best moves in years. Add in the match winning experience of Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany and David Silva, and it quickly becomes clear that City have one of the strongest squads in continental football. Within it there are leaders, and behind them is Joe Hart, who provides great stability.
Although they now look out of the title race, and were knocked out of the FA Cup comfortably by Chelsea, they have the chance to focus on doing their best to get European success this season.
Given the fact that only Barcelona look consistently like they are going to do it, the fact that no team has won the Champions League twice in a row should give other teams hope. Real Madrid don’t look like the dominant ‘Galacticos’ they used to be and Bayern Munich have struggled since Guardiola’s departure was announced, leaving an opportunity for somebody different to win Europe’s most coveted title.
Whether that be City or not, only they can decide.