Running away with the Premier League title and seemingly getting better by the week, Manchester City are showing themselves to be the team to beat in the Champions League this season.
The Citizens fell just short of a first European crown last term but this year could finally be the blue side of Manchester’s chance to lift the famous trophy.
City Top PSG Stars in Group A
It always looked set to be a straight shootout with Paris Saint-Germain for top spot in Group A, and it was the Ligue 1 giants who took command with a 2-0 win over City in the French capital. City, who are priced at 3.75 in the betting on the Champions League to win the title this season, bounced back from the disappointment of Paris to breeze past Club Brugge home and away before a rematch with PSG in Manchester. Many Champions League predictions would have expected another tight contest, but this time it was City who ran out 2-1 winners. With PSG dropping points against Club Brugge and RB Leipzig, it meant Pep Guardiola’s side topped the group and can look forward to clashes with Sporting Lisbon in the last-16.
To edge out a PSG side that has the likes of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar in its ranks to top spot just shows the levels City are playing at this season. PSG are still expected to be contenders come the business end of the Champions League, but City know that on their night they can overcome the Ligue 1 big spenders.
Premier League Form Shows Promise
What will have teams from across Europe worried is the Premier League form of Guardiola’s side. The Citizens’ 1-0 win over reigning European champions Chelsea in mid-January was a 12th successive league victory, which extended their lead at the top of the table to 11 points. That win over the west London outfit will have been another massive confidence boost to City, especially as it was against a Thomas Tuchel side that beat them in the Champions League final last term.
There were questions of how City would cope this season, not only after the disappointment of a European final defeat but also after deciding against bringing in a new striker. Long-serving striker Sergio Aguero saw his time at the Etihad Stadium come to an end before joining up with La Liga giants Barcelona. City were linked with a host of big-name strikers, but Guardiola and the hierarchy at the Etihad seemed to be content with the attacking options they had in the squad. It looks to have been a smart decision, with City thriving on the field, often without a recognised striker on the pitch. In the 1-0 win over Chelsea, City fielded Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden in the front three. A false nine system worked wonders in that game, while Guardiola always has striker Gabriel Jesus as an alternative when ‘Plan A’ is not working.
City are head and shoulders above the rest in England at present and there are certainly signs to suggest that they could be on to something special in Europe as well.