This is a question that always seems to be asked around this time every year â€” can Manchester City win the Champions League? The answer ahead of the round of 16 fixtures is usually: yes, of course! However, for one reason or another, Pep Guardiolaâ€™s men end up not having enough nerve to go all the way and as a result, crash out in the preceding rounds â€” or even losing the final to a much weaker Chelsea side, as they did last year.
With Portuguese outfit Sporting Lisbon lined up as their first knockout round opponents, Man City are once again the favourites to win Europeâ€™s premier club competition with those who bet on football on skybet.com. While they lost the showpiece match last year, simply getting to the final at the EstÃ¡dio do DragÃ£o in Porto may just have broken down the mental barriers for the Premier League champions.
Those who watch the English top flight will be well aware that defeat makes Guardiolaâ€™s rampant side even hungrier and as we enter the knockout stages of the Champions League, Man City look like a wounded animal ready to take down anything and anyone that stands in their way of lifting that famous big-eared trophy in Saint Petersburg come May.
Sporting are, rather unfortunately, their first prey. City shouldnâ€™t have to get out of first or second gear to comfortably dispatch of the 2020-21 Primeira Liga champions. It is a tie that Guardiolaâ€™s men should be able to use to rebuild momentum after the break in European football following the conclusion of the group stages in mid-December and get them prepared for perhaps more difficult opposition in the quarter-finals.
The last eight is where Man Cityâ€™s mettle amongst the European giants will likely begin to be tested. The sides that make it to the quarter-finals will already be in a better position, considering either Real Madrid or Paris Saint-Germain will have been knocked out after their blockbuster tie, but with the likes of Bayern Munich, Liverpool or Inter Milan, AtlÃ©tico Madrid and so on all possible opponents in the next round, the competition will be ramped up a notch.
Man City have gotten a taste of playing one of Europeâ€™s elite sides already this season, as they went up against PSG in the group stages. Teams will watch that 2-0 defeat at the Parc des Princes to break down how to beat this side, and while they came from behind to win the home fixture 2-1 and top Group A, there are certainly weaknesses that can be exploited.
Without an out-and-out striker, City could really struggle against Europeâ€™s powerhouses. The recent draw in the Premier League with Southampton, when centre-back Aymeric Laporteâ€™s goal salvaged a point at St. Maryâ€™s, is proof that Guardiolaâ€™s team can, in fact, be tamed and if the Saints can do it, then sides with as much quality as Bayern definitely can.
That is where JuliÃ¡n Ãlvarez could have come in and really made a difference in Guardiolaâ€™s squad at this crucial point of the campaign. The young Argentine, who was courted by many of Europeâ€™s big guns before ultimately signing for City, has been likened to clubâ€™s legendary topscorer, Sergio AgÃ¼ero. However, he wonâ€™t join up with his new teammates until June at the earliest, with River Plateâ€™s Copa Libertadores campaign meaning he could stay in South America for even longer.
The answer to â€˜can Man City finally get their hands on the Champions League trophy?â€™ is obviously yes, but will they? We will just have to wait and see!