Can Manchester City Conquer The Continent?
Manchester City’s start to this season’s Champions League has not been as impressive as many would have thought. A Matchday 1 defeat to Lyon at home sent shock waves across Europe, while they were made to work for their success against Hoffenheim in their last outing.
Were it not for David Silva’s late winner then it would have read just one point from a possible six for Pep Guardiola’s men. The situation looks slightly better as the defending Premier League champions have three points instead.
However, that is still three points less than they and the Footballing fraternity would have expected them to earn from their first two fixtures, and it now has people asking the question as to whether City can go all the way to winning the Champions League this season.
Looking at the Champions League final odds it seems as if the belief is still there with the punters, as they are currently favourites to win the competition at odds of 5/1 with Betfair. However, there is a certain feeling of ‘must do better’ if the dream of continental success is to become a reality.
At the same time though if there is ever a time to get the kinks ironed out, it is in the early stages of the competition. So perhaps there is no cause for concern from Pep Guardiola after witnessing City’s first two Champions League exploits of the season.
Much was made of the fact that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss was absent in the aforementioned defeat to Lyon, after being sent to the stands during last season’s Quarter-finals defeat to Liverpool he was then slapped with a two-match touchline ban.
One of those was suspended, however, it meant that his trusted assistant Mikel Arteta was in charge as the club got their Champions League campaign underway. On the evidence of that defeat, it looked as if City’s star players lacked direction from the sidelines.
It is no secret that Guardiola is something of a micro-manager, a trait that is clearly evident during any 90 minutes of Football in which he is a part of. But without the puppet master being able to pull the strings against Lyon it meant that his usual messages were not able to be conveyed.
It is was almost as if Arteta was playing the role of a supply teacher, an able assistant but not at the levels required to get the necessary results. That may well be a damming indictment of the former Arsenal midfielder, but it perhaps shows just how much of a bearing their head honcho has on City’s fortunes.
Even though the team that won the Premier League at a canter last season has perhaps stuttered in Europe this time around, you do get the feeling that they will eventually be firing on all cylinders when it comes to their Champions League endeavours.
There is no doubting that they have the personnel in which to go on and win the prize that has been coveted by City’s Dubai based owners for so long, now will we found out whether they can finally go all the way and conquer the continent once and for all.