Champions League success beckons for Manchester City
After securing its first Premier League title in 44 years, Manchester City is now ready to challenge the UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history.
On the back of two late goals from Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero, City secured a remarkable 3-2 victory against Queens Park Rangers, thus securing their status as champions of English football.
Having conquered the FA Cup and Premier League over the past two seasons, City has now laid the necessary foundations to mount a severe challenge in Europe’s premier club competition.
City made its debut in the Champions League this season and finished third in a tough group, containing Serie A giants Napoli and Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich.
Despite facing tough opposition City underperformed in Europe this season, particularly at home where they scrapped past Villarreal and secured an unconvincing draw against Napoli.
City, however, should now be better for the experience and could easily make the knockout stages of the Champions League, depending on the draw they receive.
Obtaining the Premier League title has provided City with a powerful sense of belief and optimism, usually felt by their eternal rivals Manchester United.
Against QPR, City was in all sorts of trouble as they trailed 2-1 in injury time. Yet they somehow managed to pull a win out of the fire to secure the Premier League crown.
Such a win against all the odds will benefit City against the very best clubs that Europe has to offer.
And it may take the very best clubs in the Champions League to eliminate City next season, given the roster they have at their disposal.
City’s starting XI is sprinkled with world-class players and they should rightfully target a place in the latter stages of the Champions League next season.
Joe Hart is perhaps England’s most promising goalkeeper since David Seaman and possesses the potential to become one of the world’s best shot stoppers in my opinion.
In defence, Man City are very well marshalled by Belgian captain Vincent Kompany, who has established himself as one of the world’s best central defenders.
Company’s partner-in-crime Joleon Lescott is also a very capable defender, but is prone to making a few errors at the back, as evidenced by his ill-timed header against QPR that led to Cisse’s equaliser.
On the wing, Pablo Zabaleta has impressed for City this season despite being in and out of the side.
The Argentine can get caught out of position on occasions but has proven to be a vital cog in City’s attack down the flank. He will only get better after playing a big role in City’s success this year.
City’s midfield is also blessed with speed and strength. Yaya Touré and Gareth Barry make up a solid defensive midfield and should be hard to crack for European opposition next season.
On the wings, David Silva and Samir Nasri are renowned for their ability to turn defenders inside out, not to mention providing world-class service to City’s vast array of strikers.
Despite their depth up front, City will face a dilemma during the off season as they decide which player will permanently partner Aguero in attack.
Despite experiencing a renaissance in form after a six-month exile, Carlos Tevez’s future at Eastland’s is far from secure.
Fellow forwards Mario Balotelli and Dzeko may also be transferred to other clubs, particularly if Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard makes his way to Eastlands.
City is short an attacking midfielder at the moment and will probably need the creativity of Hazard to unlock the best defences the Champions League has to offer.
If Hazard does make his way to City, he will help make up a devastating attacking quartet consisting of Nasri, Silva and Aguero – all players with an ability to change a match in an instant.
Overall, a look across City’s line-up suggests they do have the arsenal necessary to perhaps win the Champions League.
I would currently place them in the top five sides in Europe at the moment, with only FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Bayern Munich likely to be in front of them. Juventus did secure the Serie A with a wonderful unbeaten run, and have a strong side. However, they haven’t played Champions League in a while and they may struggle to replicate their great football in the Champions League, depending on their group. I also feel they are a couple of world class players short of challenging for the title.
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