As the saying goes, ‘the bigger they are, the harder they fall’ and nothing could be truer in regards to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City team. An emphatic end to the Premier League Title race last season saw The Citizens break all kinds of crazy records. Their vehement run started back in the 17/18 season and followed through to the 18/19 season. Some of these incredible feats include:
- The largest ever European group stage win with a 7–0 victory over Schalke 04 in the UEFA Champions League in the Round of 16 2nd Leg (12 March 2019)
- Largest Premier League points total (100)
- Most Premier League goals scored (106)
- Most wins achieved in a single Premier League season (32)
- Largest winning margin in the Premier League (19 pts)
City’s incredible run of total domestic dominance was amplified in the 18/19 season when they won the domestic quadruple, meaning they have won the last five trophies on offer in England being, two Community Shields, a League Cup and the FA Cup. Although this season has been a rude awakening for the Premier league champions. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool squad seem unphased by their unrewarded efforts last year in the Premier League, and have instead used that disappointment to fuel their performances. A rampant run has left them unbeaten in the Premier League this season after 27 games, a whopping 22 points above City who sit baffled in 2nd. Even though no one could’ve seen this coming, Man City have had a big drop in form from last season. This being said, The Champions League is a different kettle of fish and with there being questions over Guardiola’s ability to win the competition, could the pressure prove too much over the two legs?
Manchester City are 1 of 12 English football clubs to have won a European title . For this reason, they hired one of the most elite managers in world football, Pep Guardiola. Guardiola’s last success in the UCL came way back in 2011 and despite his domestic triumphs in the Bundesliga, the Premier League and La Liga, a Champions League victory seems to be a struggle for the Portuguese ever since he left Barcelona. Facing giants such as Real Madrid so early (although they are not the force they once were since losing their star man Ronaldo) will surely have Pep scratching his head. Zinedine Zidane is the only manager to have succeeded winning three consecutive Champions Leagues, all with Real Madrid in the years 2016-2018. Be that as it may, since then they have struggled themselves with an ageing team consisting of world class players who once were. The likes of Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Bale and Luka Modric would have easily walked into any other team in the world in their prime, but with them all on the wrong side of 30, fitness levels of the squad is in question.
This could be the perfect time for Manchester City to face Real Madrid for a number of reasons. In the last two weeks, The Sky Blues were hit with the news that they would receive a 2 year ban from all UEFA European competition for serious FFP (Financial Fair Play) violations. Huge stars like Sterling, Aguero, De Bruyne and many others in the team may question whether staying at city is the best decision for their careers, especially with players like de Bruyne reaching 30 soon.
There’s also been talks about Guardiola’s future as he is known to never stay more than 3-4 years at a club. All factors combined, Manchester City as a club could be more amped up than ever for this year’s Champions League as they may not see another till 2023 if the ban is upheld. So with City’s extra motivation and Madrid’s current problems, we could be in for a very interesting fixture.
By Chris A