Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Manchester City and the hunt for European glory

Manchester City are in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Strange, isn't it? Just ten years ago, the Blues finished 15th in the Premier League table and now they're on the cusp of European glory. And what have we learnt from City's rise to power? Money talks.
"Sunny Etihad Stadium" (CC BY 2.0) by  gutsgaming 
While this is correct, it would be harsh to take anything away from Manchester City after they went toe-to-toe with Paris Saint-Germain over two gruelling legs of football and came out on top. Kevin de Bruyne scored the only goal of the game in the second leg to secure City's passage to the next round and they will be full of confidence ahead of their semi-final clash.

If truth be told, City have failed to inspire much hope in the Premier League this season - which makes their resurgence in Europe all the more bizarre. But with captain Vincent Kompany and David Silva both set to return to full fitness, City should have their top stars fresh for what could be the most important six weeks in the club's history.
It could be argued that Manuel Pellegrini's men have already exceeded all expectations by reaching the semi-finals, let alone the final on May 28th. Prior to this season, the Blues had failed to advance past the last-16 stage of the competition but they're now in with a real chance of defying the odds and lifting the crown in Milan.

As of April 14th, City are priced at 13/2 to win the competition in the football betting markets - largely due to their inexperience at the top of European football. Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid have all achieved plenty of success in the continent's elite club tournament in recent years, although Diego Simeone's men are yet to win the crown after letting a lead slip in injury-time against Real in the 2014 final.
However, that inexperience could play into City's hands. Being completely honest, Pellegrini's men probably didn't expect to get this far and should try to play without any pressure. At this level, of course there's always going to be pressure but City's semi-final opponents will be under more pressure - especially as City are the weakest side left in the competition.
"West Ham United Vs Manchester City" (CC BY 2.0) by  joshjdss 
Pellegrini's men can win the competition but they will need two key aspects to go their way. Firstly, they will need to be fortunate with injuries. If they lose key men between now and the semi-finals, they may struggle. City will need everybody fit to stand any chance of reaching the final. And in tandem with injuries, they will need plenty of luck. If City get lucky, they could emulate Chelsea's heroics in 2012 and lift the Champions League trophy for the first time.