Why Manchester City Won't Win the Champions League
After seeing his team win the FA Cup in 2011 and the Premier League in 2012, City’s billionaire owner, Sheikh Mansour, would love nothing more than to see them win the UEFA Champions League this season. It’s the hardest club knock-out competition in the world, and City have struggled in their two previous appearances, failing both times to get out of the group stage.
In City’s maiden Champions League voyage, they finished third in their group behind Bayern Munich and Napoli. They managed a respectable 10 points, usually enough to see a side safely through to the last-16, but this time it wasn’t, and City were sent tumbling into the dreaded Europa League.
The following year brought an even tougher group with Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax, as City failed to win a single match, finishing bottom with just three points. With hindsight, it was unlikely City were going to progress given Real Madrid went on to the semi-final and Dortmund finished runners-up, but to manage only three draws was a poor effort.
Manuel Pellegrini, a man with an excellent Champions League record at Villarreal and Malaga, was drafted in over the summer with the task of improving City’s European performances. A place in the knock-out stages would represent progress, and a quarter-final spot would be excellent, but it’s difficult to see City winning the competition.
Quite simply, there are much better sides in the Champions League that City would struggle to beat over two legs were they to find themselves still in the competition beyond the group stage. Real Madrid, Barcelona and, as already evidenced by their comprehensive win at the Etihad a few weeks ago, Bayern Munich are all superior to City.
Bayern played them off the park, with City struggling to get hold of the ball for much of the match. From Manuel Neuer right through to Thomas Muller, they were stronger in every department.
City are also lacking cover in defence, something which could well hurt them in Europe. When Vincent Kompany is missing, they usually struggle to defend with any kind of confidence, having been exposed numerous times already this season. Any side in the world would miss Kompany, but City look distinctly average defensively when he is out injured, and it must be addressed.
Martin Demichelis, a player with plenty of European experience playing for Bayern Munich and Malaga, is coming back to full fitness, with his experience invaluable, but his lack of pace is a concern for many.
On Saturday at West Ham, Javi Garcia once again found himself playing out of position at centre-back. He did well, winning plenty of important headers, but a side looking to win the Champions League shouldn’t be relying on a player who has failed to make the grade in his preferred position to replace their most important player. Joleon Lescott’s form has also been poor, and he is confined to the bench much of the time.
Chelsea showed with their triumph in 2012 that the best team doesn’t always win the Champions League. They defended and battled their way to wins over better sides, eventually winning on penalties against Bayern in the final. City can take hope from that, but more often than not, the best team wins this competition. City, at the moment, cannot be considered realistic winners.
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