After being placed in the “Group of Death” time after time, Manchester City F.C. have finally begun to make it out of the Group Stage of UEFA’s Champions League in recent years. In fact this year, Man City has made it farther than they ever have before in club history. Is this the year for City to make a run for the cup?
Many would say “no” and I would be one of them, but the stars may be aligning even amongst the doubters. Man City drew 2-2 with Paris Saint-Germain this past week in France adding two ever-important away goals to their name in the process. The two teams will square off in England this upcoming Tuesday, April 12th to decide who will advance to the Semi-finals.
If Manchester City is going to continue to make a run they will have to make it through a stingy PSG defense and hold off an onslaught of attacks from Branislav Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, and Angel Di Maria to name a few of their many threats. The road is long and full of obstacles, but the path may be laid in sky blue. Here are some factors to consider in building your case for or against a Man City UCL title run:
First, their home vs. away form in the UCL this year. City came out on top of their group, which featured Juventus, Sevilla, and Monchengladbach, in the earlier stage of the tournament before facing Dynamo Kiev in the Round of 16. With their first match against PSG in mind, City is sitting comfortably with 10 away goals for to 6 away goals against at this stage in the tournament. Their home form; however, leaves less room for error with 7 goals for and 5 goals against. PSG finished second in their group behind Real Madrid and ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk and Malmo, respectively. From there they went on to defeat Chelsea in the Round of 16. Like City, PSG’s away form has been slightly stronger than their home for in terms of goals scored. At home PSG has scored 8 goals to 3 scored against them, while PSG has netted 10 away from home and allowed the home side to score 2. This factor leads me to believe that City will have an even more difficult time facing PSG in England than they did in France.
The next factor that I would like to bring up is Manchester City’s impending managerial switch set to occur at the end of the season. It has already been announced that the club will be replacing Manuel Pellegrini with Bayern’s Pep Guardiola. With this being said, I believe that Pellegrini intends to continue working the team hard in hopes of leaving a positive final mark. I also believe that the team wants to continue to push forward not only for personal achievement, but also as a thank you to Pellegrini for his time at City. If City goes on to win the title, I believe this is the X-factor that will get them there. They have already all but lost in the Premier League with Leicester City running away with the conpetition, so the Champions League would definitely be the place to leave this mark.
The third and final factor I would suggest that you consider is injuries. On the negative side, City will once again be missing centerback and captain, Vincent Kompany, who has been plagued by injuries this season. The team has made his abscense known, coming out very shaky in the back in multiple games; however, it seems that Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi are begining to click together once again. Kompany is set to return on April 16th, so the Mangala-Otamendi duo will have to hold the line at home against PSG, in order to welcome their captain back in the semi-finals. The squad will also be missing Raheem Sterling and his blazing speed down the wing. Jesus Navas will most likely be the stand in for him.
On the positive side, City just returned a number of their key players. Sergio Aguero fought off earlier injury woes this season and is ready to regain his elite striking form. City also recently returned the two creative stars of the team in Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva. De Bruyne made his impact known immediately upon return, kicking off the scoring in City’s recent game against PSG. Both players are able to see and make passes that many others can’t and they are both clinical finishers in front of the goal as well. With Silva and De Bruyne back to health and Kompany set to return later this week, the stars seem to be aligning in Manchester City’s favor.
Will Manchester City make their first UEFA Champions League semi-final in club history? We’ll find out this Tuesday, April 12th when they take on PSG in England! Do you believe the hype or do you expect them to crash and burn? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured Image courtesy of mirror.co.uk