Can Man City Mount a Realistic Challenge For the Champions League?
September 13, 2015
A quick glance at the Premier League table tells you everything that you need to know about Manchester City’s start to the season. With a 100% record, a three point lead and the team yet to concede a goal, the Blues have already been established as the bookmakers favourite for the title. City are even eight points clear of their main rivals Chelsea, with the Blues having struggled to start with any confidence this season.
The Holy Grail: Can City Mount a Champions League charge?
While City remain keen to win the Premier League and launch an era of domestic dominance, however, it is success in the Champions League that the club crave most. It is this ambition that has motivated the purchase of Kevin De Bruyne, whose vision and guile are considered as crucial weapons in the thrust and parry of continental football. Success in the league also represents the next step for City, who competing in the tournament for a fifth consecutive season.
Given this and the level of investment that has driven City forward since their takeover in 2008, a strong performance in the Champions League is long overdue. In the previous four seasons, the club has failed to progress beyond the second round while they have also exited at the group stage twice. The performance in the second leg against Barcelona last season suggested that City have actually regressed in this time, as they were outplayed by their superior rivals and only spared from a thrashing by a brilliant individual showing by keeper and Premier League bargain of the decade Joe Hart.
City and the Champions League: Is this their Year?
Despite this, there is a sense that this may be City’s year. The club has spent heavily in improving the squad in the summer, adding pace and dexterity in the form of Raheem Sterling and De Bruyne. Sergio Aguero also looks fit and fast, with Yaya Toure apparently rejuvenated and David Silva now operating with freedom in his preferred number 10 position.
This optimism must be countered by potential defensive issues and the presence of a difficult group containing Juventus and Sevilla, but City appear in better shape than at any point in the last four years. Their greater depth and experience could also play a part this time round, and there is no doubt that if the club maintain their club form they will be one to avoid if they survive the group stage.