After yet another PL-title winning season, Manchester City had a summer of retooling the squad. Pepe Guardiola announced new additions and possible departures, but to be honest, City didn’t do a lot. Of course, Jack Grealish came in a big-money move from Aston Villa, but aside from that, no major changes were made.
City lost Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero to Barca, but they hardly had a meaningful few seasons. Both players left for free. Angelino was sold to Leipzig but he was already there for a couple of seasons. The squad needed improvements in several areas, yet only managed to snag Grealish.
There was a lot of talk about a Messi-Guardiola reunion, but it fell through the cracks when the Argentine signed for City’s rivals PSG. The team made a mixed start to the season, being unimpressive in the Premier League and opening the CL with a defeat to PSG. Things have improved a lot since then, making City the joint-favourites with Bayern Munich for the Champions League.
Those who follow EPL on Sportsbet know that the team is also in the hunt for the Premier League, although Liverpool is in the lead. While the team has the quality to fight on both fronts, it has set its sights on the CL.
Ready for a European Title Run?
It’s fair to say that City had no luck so far in the Champions League. The team got to the quarters or semifinals on several occasions but didn’t hit the mark. Last year, City battled its way to the final where it surprisingly lost to Chelsea. It was another year of disappointment for City’s fans, although Guardiola’s squad lifted the PL trophy to mend those wounds.
All throughout last season, it was clear that several areas needed improvements. The defense was improved mid-year with the addition of Ruben Dias, a great signing from Benfica. However, the midfield was often in shambles, and City’s attackers were struggling to score last year. Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan was the team’s top scorer in the Premier League and overall, which spoke volumes of the team’s need for fresh firepower.
That major issue wasn’t truly addressed with the signing of Jack Grealish. He plays more of a winger role than a forward, although he has the freedom to find his maverick self. His performances have been a mixed bag of results so far, but everyone believes Grealish will eventually blossom. He might even end up the fuel the team needs to get over that last CL obstacle.
City was drawn against Leipzig, PSG, and Club Brugge in the Champions League. It was an explosive start for Guardiola’s squad, thrashing Leipzig 6-3 in Round 1. However, City’s arch-rivals Paris Saint Germain were too big of an obstacle in Round 2, with the French team winning 2-0.
The Citizens responded with a 1-5 thrashing of Brugge away and 4-1 at home against the same opponent. This put them atop the table in front of PSG with another major derby awaiting at the Etihad. Scoring doesn’t seem a big problem for City right now, but once again, a winger is the best scorer just like last year. This time, it’s Riyad Mahrez, showing once again that City still need a top scorer.
What Needs to Change
At the moment, City’s attack must respond, especially in the coming games. Goals have been flowing so far, but one injury can throw the team in disarray. Challenging for the Champions League will take more than a midfielder or two scoring screamers from outside of the box. City was the favourite last year as well, but lost to Chelsea, a team that wasn’t even expected to reach the final.
The next matches in the Champions League, especially the one against PSG, will show if City has the mettle to challenge for the big ears trophy. Paris Saint Germain made significant improvements to its squad, adding players such as Georginio Wijnaldum and Lionel Messi to the squad. Let’s not forget Achraf Hakimi who’s been a fine player this term so far.
The good news is that bookmakers believe City and Bayern are the two biggest favourite for the CL, and that says a lot. The Citizens lost in the final last year, but this year, they might go all the way. Of course, it depends on how the season goes and if the players can stay healthy. Jack Grealish will be a key piece of the cog. If City’s new number 10 manages to exceed expectations, the team will be much better for it.
It won’t be easy, and the team will obviously need the help of a healthy Kevin de Bruyne. However, if anyone can do it, it’s City. It’s high time for a CL trophy for the Citizens, and this might be the year the club wins it.