Manchester City were drawn against Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals, but will make it through after scoring two goals past PSG. The Citizens’ manager Pep Guardiola has bemoaned his side’s lack of chances and unlucky draws during their run to this stage, but that won’t stop them making a deep tournament run next year.
Manchester City has been knocked out of the Champions League. Guardiola’s men were unable to overcome a 2-1 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield. The Citizens now have no excuses for not winning their first league title in 44 years. Read more in detail here: man city champions league.
After losing last season’s Champions League final to Chelsea in Porto, Pep Guardiola and his Manchester City team couldn’t get out of the Estadio do Dragao fast enough. As Thomas Tuchel’s team paraded the trophy following their 1-0 triumph, Guardiola gave the briefest of postmatch interviews and his players walked out of the stadium with nary a word to any media source.
Even almost a year later, it’s difficult to discover any response or reflection from Guardiola’s players on that night in Portugal. It’s as if the club’s first and only participation in a Champions League final never happened.
Only the City players and Guardiola know why they were and are so hesitant to discuss their failure to win the Champions League last season, but it’s a safe bet that reflecting on a close call will only add to the pressure to finally win the sport’s most prestigious competition.
But, since being changed by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan’s financial power in 2008, City’s inability to win the Champions League has become a sports outlier.
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City has spent £1.49 billion on signings since 2011-12, more than any other club in the world, according to Transfermarkt, and they have probably the best coach in the world in Guardiola, who has won several championships with Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and City. Guardiola also led Barcelona to two Champions League victories, in 2009 and 2011.
City has qualified for the Champions League in 11 straight seasons in England since 2011-12, but despite their advantages, Tuesday’s semifinal first-leg match against Real Madrid will be just their third participation in the last four since Sheikh Mansour took control 14 years ago.
Real Madrid has won four Champions Leagues and Barcelona has won three; Chelsea has won European champions twice; Liverpool has reached two finals, one of which they won; and Manchester United has reached two finals, both of which they lost to Guardiola’s Barcelona.
Even when taking into consideration the time it took to rebuild the club after the acquisition, City has yet to punch its weight. Following Roman Abramovich’s takeover in 2003, Chelsea took five years to reach a Champions League final and nine years to win it. Sheikh Mansour, though, is still waiting for City to win the grand prize after 14 years.
Manchester City is still waiting to win the most important award of all. Pool/Getty Images/Pierre-Philippe Marcou
In an interview with ESPN in 2018 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Sheikh Mansour’s arrival in Abu Dhabi, club chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said emphatically that Champions League triumph was anticipated “sooner rather than later.”
“The quick answer is yes, we should win it [the Champions League] in the next ten years, and definitely sooner rather than later,” Al Mubarak said to ESPN. “However, it is difficult. It took Barcelona over 50 years to win their first Champions League title; it’s a challenging league, and the Premier League competition makes it much more difficult for English clubs. Every weekend, we have the disadvantage of having to play a really tough game. That isn’t true of every competition we encounter in the Champions League.”
However, it is disputed if City’s presence in the Premier League continues to be a disadvantage. Since 2018, City and Liverpool have dominated the competition to the point that local challengers have reduced, owing to the quality and depth of the country’s and, perhaps, Europe’s top teams.
Sheikh Mansour’s continued investment in City has simply strengthened Guardiola’s squad to the point where mitigating factors for Champions League failure are no longer relevant.
City might once claim to be the new kids on the block, fighting to catch up to the established best. City had to develop their own winning machine and earn the right to play on an equal footing, but they are now as strong and rich as any club in Europe, leaving local heavyweights like Man United and Arsenal in their wake.
So there are no longer excuses for not winning the Champions League. They’ve located every jigsaw piece; now it’s just a question of fitting them all together when it counts.
Manuel Pellegrini’s City were underdogs in their first Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid in 2016, and they played as though they were uncertain of their position on the same platform as perhaps the greatest club in the world. City, on the other hand, will be favorites versus Real this time. They are now in first place in the Premier League, with important players Kevin De Bruyne, Ruben Dias, Raheem Sterling, and Ederson all healthy and in good form.
The days of stage fright and excuses for failing are passed. It happened again in Porto last season, which is perhaps why it’s such a touchy issue, but it’s time for City to produce in the Champions League after 14 years of investment and excellent recruiting.
Manchester City has been knocked out of the Champions League, leaving Chelsea as the only Premier League team left in Europe’s premier club competition. Reference: man city vs chelsea.
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