Now that the 2019/20 football season is well and truly underway across Europe, we’re here to take a closer look at the ambitions of Manchester City this year – particularly in the Champions League.
There’s no doubt that Pep Guardiola has revolutionised the Citizens since he took over the reins back in 2016. Having won two Premier League titles, two EFL Cups and one FA Cup in his first three seasons, you’d have to say his record speaks for itself. Yet the dream of winning a Champions League trophy has eluded Guardiola during that time, and it’s been almost ten years since he was last crowned as a champion of Europe with Barcelona.
That’s something both the manager and the all-star squad at his disposal will be looking to change this time around. City have started well in all competitions this year, including an impressive 3-0 away victory at Shakhtar Donetsk on matchday one. Yet the question is whether they can sustain this dominating form when it matters most. Here are three key factors in doing just that.
Depth of squad
City’s spending power has been a large driver of their success in recent years. Yet despite the fact they spent nowhere near as much as some of their big European rivals this summer, they still managed to bring in a few astute signings to bolster what was already an incredibly deep squad.
That includes the transfer of Rodri from Atletico Madrid, a player that many experts have tipped to become the next Sergio Busquets. A defensive midfielder by trade, Rodri is the perfect foil for the aging Fernandinho in the centre of the park. Fernandinho’s absence due to injury last season had a notable impact on the performance of the team, so that’s something Guardiola and co have looked to shore up this time around.
Sterling has carried on his exceptional form from the latter half of last season, scoring for fun and proving a potent goal threat whenever he’s got the ball at his feet. You could easily make the case that he’s the best player in the Premier League right now, not to mention one of the best forwards in world football.
His performances are a big part of the reason why Manchester City are already among the favourites to go all the way in the Champions League this year. It’s worth keeping an eye on the latest football betting news and predictions at bet365 to see how their odds for both outright winner and top scorer change over the course of the season.
Handling the pressure
One thing that’s going against Manchester City compared with other teams in the competition is pressure. Sure, teams such as Juventus, Barcelona and PSG all have the expectation that they should be winning the trophy every year, though it’s clear that the longer Pep Guardiola goes without picking up a Champions League title, the bigger the weight of pressure on his shoulders.
That might have been the reason that City bottled it against Tottenham Hotspur in last year’s semi-final, and it’s something they will have to face yet again if they want to progress to the final this year.
Whatever happens, it’s shaping up to be another defining chapter in Guardiola’s Manchester City saga. One thing’s for certain: it will definitely have an impact on whether he decides to stick around for a few more seasons before looking for a new challenge.