Manchester City still favourites to win Champions League
You can read more about why all of the bookies have Man City down as favourites here, but let’s just say that Guardiola’s side have been immense.
Next week sees the quarter-finals of the Champions League getting underway. The fixture list contains some fascinating ties with the likes of Bayern Munich against Paris Saint Germain, Real Madrid taking on Liverpool, and Porto versus Chelsea. But all eyes will be on Manchester City’s game against Borussia Dortmund. This is because Champions League success has always eluded Pep Guardiola’s team, but Manchester City could be in with their best shot yet.
You can about why all of the bookies have Man City down as favourites here, but let’s just say that Guardiola’s side have been immense. Not only are they sky high at the top of the Premier League table, but Manchester City could even complete a historic quadruple if they manage to remain of course to also win the FA Cup and the League Cup. So how have City become such a powerful team and who stands the best chance of stopping them?
City’s path to glory
Barring a couple of rocky moments at the start of the Premier League campaign, Manchester City have looked almost unstoppable this year. The team managed to post a record number of 21 consecutive wins over the winter period to go flying ahead of the competition in the Premier League.
All of is remarkable as City has managed to do all of this largely without Sergio Aguero. The Argentine striker has been absent through a variety of injuries and ailments, and while he’ll be missed, Aguero’s decision to leave City at the end of the season won’t be quite as catastrophic as it once might have been.
This is because Manchester City are blessed with an astonishingly strong squad who have the depth needed to maintain a consistently excellent level of performance. The average Manchester City subs bench eclipses most other Premier League teams in term of financial value. Guardiola therefore has the chance to rotate key players like Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus so as to maintain fitness levels throughout a long and punishing season.
Plus certain City players have managed to routinely come up with the goods throughout the campaign. In particular, Ilkay Gundogan has been a stand-out both in terms of his newfound goalscoring touch and overall dynamism. City’s defense has also looked much more impressive this season with the return of form of John Stones, and consistently strong performances from the likes of Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo. All of which has meant that Guardiola has managed to put together his most balanced squad yet.
Who could stop City’s road to glory?
It might surprise some people to find that Manchester City are the bookie’s favourites to win the Champions League. After all, last season’s winners – Bayern Munich – have looked just as good this time around. Much depends on whether the Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski’s injury continues to keep him sidelined. As it stands, it looks like the forward will be out for a month which means missing a pivotal quarter-final game against Paris Saint Germain. With an astonishing 35 Bundesliga goals scored this season, it’s hard to underestimate what a key contribution Lewandowski makes to the Bayern team.
Of course, Bayern have the no small matter of actually getting past Paris Saint Germain. The French team will be looking to put their 0-1 defeat by Bayern in the Champions League final of last year behind them. It’s still too early to see whether their relatively new manager, Mauricio Pochettino, is the right man for the job, but any team containing the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar will always pose a threat.
Interestingly many bookies have Chelsea narrowly ahead of Liverpool in the odds to win the Champions League. While it’s fair to say that Liverpool have had a rotten year, a Champions League success would be one great way to make up for a barren Premier League campaign. Chelsea are looking to be in great form under Thomas Tuchel, and the team are still unbeaten since he took over 12 games ago. Both Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund are having difficult seasons, but either team could cause an upset, while Porto would need plenty of luck to make it to the final alone.
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