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POWER OF TWO

Do Man City have the most complete squad in Europe?

Kevin De Bruyne's injury would have been devastating for most sides but Man City's deep squad has softened the blow

Five million fantasy football managers consecutively smashing their keyboards after hearing of Kevin De Bruyne’s injury sent a shockwave throughout England.

Actually, that’s not strictly true. There wasn’t a single murmur in Manchester.

The ludicrous depth of Man City’s squad snuffed out any potential disaster.

PA:Empics Sport
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Those questioning why City needed to buy Riyad Mahrez in the summer have an immediate answer.

But have City managed to assemble the deepest squad in Europe?

Let’s find out. The criteria is simple: two ‘elite’ players in each position.

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City have depth in every position, especially up front where Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus will be asked to share the goalscoring burden.

Pep Guardiola’s options behind the striker can also change seamlessly, with all six players comfortable occupying a traditional no.10 role or hugging the touchline.

The only potential areas of weakness are at full-back and in goal.

Benjamin Mendy’s pace and thrust down the left flank can’t be matched by any other player in City’s squad, although Fabian Delph gives it his all.

Claudio Bravo is nowhere near as comfortable or confident in goal as Ederson, which translates to nerviness across the defence when playing out from the back.

Now for City’s arch-rivals, Man United.

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While not possessing the depth of City, it’s tempting to imagine what United’s squad could do in the hands of Guardiola.

The options across the front three have everything you’d want from an attack, while the first-choice midfield is both mobile and technical.

But Mourinho’s preference towards physique and durability shines through in United’s backup options, hence why Marouane Fellaini is often the first port of call off the bench whether winning or losing.

Too many of the replacements aren’t as strong as the starters, which is why United are so vulnerable to injuries in key positions.

Now onto Liverpool.

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Liverpool boast the second-most stacked squad in England, which is a far cry from the not-to-distant days of Paul Konchesky and co.

Not only do they have two genuinely elite players for almost every individual position, they are also moulded in Jurgen Klopp’s image.

This is important when it comes to continuity off the bench.

However, to reach City’s level of depth, Liverpool need to improve upon their options in the middle of defence, at left-back and up front, although Rhian Brewster looks a terrific prospect.

Time to look outside of England and head to Barcelona.

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Barcelona’s options are deceiving.

Philippe Coutinho can operate in the heart of midfield and further forward as part of the front three, so the Brazilian is essentially cover for two positions.

If Luis Suarez was to get injured, Barcelona could move Lionel Messi inside and play with both Malcom and Ousmane Demebele on the flanks, rather than turn to Paco Alacer.

However an injury to either full-back would severely reduce Barcelona’s capacity to attack from defence, with Barcelona B left-back Juan Miranda untested at the top level.

As always with Barcelona, the academy boasts several gems who could be called upon in times of need.

Carles Alena, Sergi Samper, Oriol Busquets, Riqui Puig and Abel Ruiz should all see playing time at some point during Barcelona’s campaign.

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Real Madrid’s squad lurches from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Julen Lopetegui boast one of the strongest starting XI in Europe but his options off the bench are limited, which made the decision to loan Matteo Kovacic out to Chelsea all the more surprising.

An injury to midfield destroyer Casemiro or striker Karim Benzema- as much as he’s been maligned- could be devastating.

Madrid arguably don’t boast two ‘elite’ players in any position outside of Lopetegui’s goalkeeping options.

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Bayern, in stark contrast to Madrid, boast options all over the pitch.

As with City, the players available to Niko Kovac in the three behind the striker and the two in midfield are fluid and interchangeable, if slightly ageing.

Bayern have been typically shrewd in signing versatile midfielder Leon Goretzka on a free transfer from Schalke to offset the loss of Arturo Vidal.

The main area of concern is up front, where an injury to Robert Lewandowski would leave Sandro Wagner as the main man. That concern stems purely from Wagner’s decision to wear the no.2 shirt.

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PSG have taken a relaxed approach to getting the chequebook out since the Qatar-backed takeover in 2011, which is reflected in the strength of Thomas Tuchel’s squad.

But complying with Financial Fair Play in the wake of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe’s arrival has meant relinquishing some of that depth this summer.

Don’t feel too sorry for Tuchel.

He just bought verastile German defender Thilo Kehrer for €37million and can pick from three goalkeepers that would walk into most sides around Europe.

Finally, a quick trip to Italy to have a look at what Juventus are offering this season.

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival has been the headline to accompany Juventus’ summer and the cherry on their Madeira cake of a squad.

The Old Lady have two elite players for each position, aside from left-back, and multiple players who can play different roles.

Take Mario Mandzukic, who’s just as likely to be Juventus’s left-back or left winger as he is to be Ronaldo’s understudy.

It’s looking ominous for the rest of Italy.

Still doesn’t look right

Massimo Pinca
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Still doesn’t look right

So what’s the verdict?

It’s hard to look past City for squad depth. Say what you want about the money they have spent but Pep, and the managers who have gone before him, have assembled a tour de Force of a squad.

Disagree? Let us know via Facebook, Twitter or pingpongwithkeyboardwarriors@dreamteam.co.uk.


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