Last season’s competition represented an immense challenge for City which in reality they failed to live up to – probably costing former manager Roberto Mancini his job. Although they were drawn in the ‘Group of Death’ (there is always one) with eventual runners up Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Ajax, the Citizens failed miserably to even compete, picking up just three draws leaving them bottom of the group. Their defensive frailties were exposed to the highest degree in that group and generally many saw City’s performance as a damning indictment that English football had fallen behind other European leagues in terms of quality.
This time around, City will fancy their chances a little more. They can’t really perform any worse than they did at this stage last season. Further examination of their group shows that on paper at least, the Etihad Stadium club should be looking for at least second place. Despite the presence of holders Bayern Munich who most people’s money would be on to top the group, City have the inexperienced Plzen and the probably trickier CSKA Moscow to navigate.
Nevertheless, no game is going to be easy in the Champions League and Manuel Pellegrini’s men will have to develop a consistency in their play that really has evaded them in previous European competition.