Manchester City and Champions League glory are in no way synonymous – and that’s a real problem.
Manchester’s so called ‘second club’ have struggled to find their feet in Europe since the influx of unprecedented financial backing when their Qatari owners took over in September 2008.
In fact, City have only passed the last 16 ONCE in their six seasons in the competition.
The ‘noisy neighbours’ are far from European new boys now and that record simply isn’t good enough for a club of their stature.
So with that in mind, here’s seven reasons why actually winning the Champions League should be a realistic target this season…
1 Their net spend over the last five years is incomparable
During City’s period of regular appearances in the Champions League no club in Europe has spent more than the €880m (data taken from official sources) Pep Guardiola’s side has forked out.
Their net spend in the last five years (€554m) dwarfs even PSG and was once again the highest in England this summer after forking out over £200m again.
2 They’ve finally been handed a favourable group
Due to City’s poor UEFA coefficient their Champions League draws have been pretty tough down the years, grouped with the likes of Bayern Munich and Napoli, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Juventus and Sevilla.
This season, Napoli aside, has been far more kind on the back of their improved seeding and they should navigate Feyenoord and Shakhtar Donetsk with ease.
3 Their Premier League rivals have been there, done that and got the t-shirt
City are now in their seventh season in the Champions League yet have reached the last four on just the one occasion.
Compare that with their main rivals in England over their first six seasons; Manchester United won it in their fifth season and reached a semi-final, Liverpool won it in their third season and reached a final and semi-final and Chelsea won it in their sixth season and reached three semi-finals.
Even Arsenal, always the brunt of the joke in the Champions League, reached the final by their eighth season.
On that evidence, City should be a more consistent force in Europe by now after overcoming their early teething problems.
4 They boast the best attacking contingent in Europe
In terms of variety in both personnel and shape, Pep Guardiola truly has an embarrassment of riches in attack.
So far he’s paired Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus together as a strike duo, leaving the likes of Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling on the bench.
But that trio are all chomping at the bit to get going should Guardiola opt for more potency from wide positions.
When you add Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan’s guile and creativity it’s a set of options only PSG can really rival in terms of strength in depth.
5 Guardiola has critics of his own to answer
There was always likely to be a bit of a comedown after managing utterly dominant sides in Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but even Guardiola’s biggest supporters will admit last season wasn’t good enough.
A last 16 defeat in the Champions League coupled with an insipid Premier League title challenge means he really has to deliver on multiple fronts this season.
The holy grail, of course, is in Europe where Guardiola will really be judged on his side’s performances.
Underachieve again and his neck could be on the line.
6 Their main rivals are there for the taking
This summer was like no other in the transfer market, with Barcelona’s complacency around players the main sticking point after losing Neymar and failing to land their prime targets.
The Catalans are therefore in a period of transition while it may take Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and co. a season to fully click together at PSG.
Real Madrid are double champions but even they have question marks around the happiness of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
Bayern Munich too are, according to many German experts, in decline with the likes of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery in their latter years and Robert Lewandowski seemingly unhappy with the club’s board.
7 They’ve run out of excuses
City are far from the European ‘minnows’ they once were in their debut Champions League season back in 2011/12 and have to now be regarded alongside the continent’s elite.
Their coefficient hindered them in the past but it’s now respectable and they shouldn’t be intimidated by any opposition they face.
With the amount of money they forked out and with a manager of Guardiola’s credentials, they simply have to start delivering.
🏆Latest Champions League odds🏆
SUN BETS HAVE THE BEST ODDS FOR BRITISH CLUBS TO WIN IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
- Liverpool to beat Sevilla: 3/4
- Man City to beat Feyenoord: 2/5
- Spurs to beat Borussia Dortmund :11/8