Can City really win the Champions League?

SThompson93

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Sounds like a silly question, but can Manchester City really win the Champions League this year. As Mancini’s side prepare for the challenge of Napoli later tonight, the StudentTactician looks at whether or not European glory really could be on the cards…

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Strength in depth
When putting together my likely City line-up’s for home and away European ties, I have failed to include Kolarov, Savic, Zabaleta and Nasri. City, and maybe only Manchester United in the whole of Europe, are two teams who don’t have to fear injuries or suspensions. Barcelona are not the same side without Messi or Iniesta, just as Bayern struggle without Ribery or Schweinsteiger and Inter when Lucio or Sneijder aren’t playing.
Tevez gets injured, pick from Dzeko or Aguero. No Adam Johnson, how about playing Balotelli, Nasri or Milner? Kompany’s not match fit, why not use Richards, Savic, Zabaleta, Toure or Lescott? The only player they can’t replace is the magnificent David Silva, although I’m sure Balotelli or Nasri would fail to agree!

Experience is key
Just as important as City’s strength in depth is their European and International experience. Hart is England’s number one goalkeeper, Kolo Toure and Clichy have played European football for years and Kompany is Belgium’s vice-captain. De jong has played in a World Cup final, Yaya Toure has already won the Champions League with Barcelona and David Silva is a World Cup and European Championship winner. Plus Aguero and Tevez regularly star for Argentina.
Experience in this tournament cannot be underrated. It’s not just luck that has seen the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Barcelona in the last four on a regular basis. They are all teams that have kept the same nucleus of players. Yes City’s squad have not played with each other for the last five years, but their experience from playing with successful sides elsewhere should be enough to get them out of their group and through at least one knockout round.

Scare factor
Teams don’t want to play City. Fact. There is an internet video of Bayern Munich’s Ribery seeing that his side have drawn Manchester City, with his hands on his head. Ribery and the rest of Europe have every right to be scared of City. Despite their experience, the team as a whole has no European pedigree and no one is entirely sure how they will play, only that they are a threat. Bayern Munich, Villarreal and Napoli can’t compete with City financially and so at least two of the three sides will go into games against Manchester City as underdogs.
However, this could be a good thing as we don’t know how composed City are when they are expected to win the big matches. All we can go on is last season where Mancini decided to bore the opposition to sleep and then try and nick a goal, City’s fans will not be happy with such performances when Bayern, Villarreal and Napoli visit and will expect Silva, Toure and co. to attack from the off.

Tactical nous
We can expect Mancini to set about with two very different teams for both home and away matches. Joe Hart in goal is a given, and the back four will be more than likely see Richards and Clichy at full back with Kompany being partnered at Centre Back by Kolo Toure or Joleon Lescott. When at home I expect city to play the fluid looking 4-4-2 that has worked so well this season. Barry or De Jong will sit with Yaya Toure playing in a more advanced central role. Width will most probably come from Adam Johnson and David Silva with Aguero dropping deeper than Tevez or Dzeko.
Away from home I would expect more caution from Mancini. A 4-3-3 with a lone striker seems most likely but when in possession this could develop into a 4-2-3-1 with Milner, from a central role being allowed to make up City’s width on the left with Silva cutting inside to find space. Against tougher opposition, Clichy and Richards will be far more conservative in attack and City’s central threesome will probably be De Jong, Barry and Yaya Toure, with Toure being given license to roam. The lone man will probably be Tevez or Aguero as they offer more in terms of energy to close down defenders, and pace to counter attack, than Edin Dzeko.

Saturday, Wednesday, Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday
Match congestion will be a big factor if City are to go far in Europe. Yes they have enough players to cover most positions but the prospect of playing around 5 games in 14 days every three weeks or so is a big ask for even the richest of teams. City’s European form is also going to be based around Premier League games before and after European matches. For instance before City’s second group game at German giant Bayern Munich, they face a tricky tie against Everton.
The Manchester Derby takes place the Sunday after Manchester United take on minnows Otelul Galati in Europe whereas City will have played Villarreal, meaning that United can afford to rest players for the Premier League encounter unlike City. After Napoli away and their last group game at home to Bayern Munich they Mancini’s side face both Liverpool and Chelsea away, respectively.

Nothings a given
It isn’t even fair to just presume that City will qualify. Napoli had the second highest co-efficient in pot four, behind the current German champions Borrusia Dortmund none the less, and will be looking forwards to taking on Europe’s elite for the first time in over 20 years. Villarreal in their last two campaigns have reached one quarter final (2008-09) and one semi-final (2005-06) and still have the likes of Giuseppe Rossi and Nilmar to frighten City’s defence.
Bayern Munich have just the four Champions League titles and as of two years ago made the final. Plus they have the likes of Manuel Neuer, Phillip Lahm, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Alaba, Toni Kroos , Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez who would all be pushing for a place in City’s starting line-up. Yes City should have enough to qualify from Group A but it is by no means an absolute certainty.

Money to spend
Be honest, as soon as someone utters the word “Manchester City”, we all think “kerching”. At the end of the day, if City do just about scrape through their group then they can always buy Sneijder, Wilshere, Hamsik, Chiellini or whoever else they wish in January to “top up” their squad. Perhaps they could do with a reserve goalkeeper to put pressure on Hart, another central defender, a right back, a winger and a striker to ensure that they have enough strength in depth and have a squad to make most of Europe truly jealous.

Luck of the draw
If City do get out of the group then they will still have to overcome Europe’s elite over two legs and will have to account for surprise packages (see Porto in 2004, Villarreal in 2006 and Schalke in 2011). Should City win their group it isn’t beyond belief that Lille, Lyon, Borussia Dortmund, AC Milan and Valencia could all finish second and therefore City could easily find themselves eliminated at the first knockout stage. Things only get worse if they finished second in the group where a first round tie with Inter Milan, Real Madrid, FC Porto or Barcelona isn’t out of the question. Just because City get out of the group, it doesn’t mean a semi-final place or better is guaranteed.

Conclusion
Will City get out of their group, yes I think so. If they finish second then as long as they can stay away from Real Madrid, Inter or Barcelona then a quarter final place at least should be a given. Win Group A and the only team to realistically fear in the next round is AC Milan, although Dortmund, Lyon, Lille or Valencia wouldn’t be a given. Either way, I expect at least a quarter final place from City. Then given a decent draw perhaps a semi-final appearance.
If Manchester City are to win the Champions League this year, then they will have to overcome Barcelona at some point. Were they to meet in a knockout round over two legs then I can’t see anything other than a Barca win. Arsenal’s defeat of Barcelona last season shows that of course Barca can be beaten in a one off match, but they never have an off day two games in a row. A Barcelona v Manchester City final is a much more equal affair and should it happen, with City’s billions, you never really know what could happen…



For my posts from the StudentTactician please visit "The first 90 minutes are the most important" . All comments are welcome!
 

ajt09

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No. No disrespect City fans but the main reason for me being-Barcelona.
 

ScyllaJoe

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Depends on who they draw in the knockout rounds. The group stage is the most difficult out of all of them but should get through IMO. Then if you have a bit of luck along the way I don't see why they can't.
 

Frutty

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Basically I can see them getting into semi-finals at most, but I cannot see them winning UCL in the first year they're in.
 

ajt09

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Big fat 0 chance i dont evan think there get passed the group stage
Though I don't think they'll win it, I'd be absolutely staggered if they don't get passed the group stage. They're loaded with world class internationals, so if I was a City fan I'd pretty much expect to qualify past the group stages. Saying that, stranger things have happened
 

Trophy_Whorder

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if they cant evan beat napoli at home with all them star names how the **** are they going to win the champions league bayern are a lot more stronger team then naploi and i think city with struggle in that game to and am not just saying this because am a man united fan
 

Jamie.

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I don't think they will line up with 3 defensive midfielders away from home, I think De Jong would have started last night in place of Barry, had he been fit, and I certainly don't think Johnson will come in and start ahead of Nasri/Silva/Aguero.

I think the only change away from home is Milner will come in on one of the flanks to give that extra flexibility and balance. De Jong's protection was sorely missed last night, Barry made a horrible mistake for their goal.

I think there's the possibility of playing Tevez off Dzeko with 2 of Nasri/Aguero/Silva slightly wider simply because Tevez is a magnificent counter attacking striker. But I disagree that City will play 3 defensive midfielders away, especially against Bayern. If you defend narrowly versus Bayern you will get punished by their wingers. Clichy will work harder than Kolarov there is no doubt about it so that tightens the wide left area up and Silva pressed high and hard. The fact that Gargano and Yaya Toure were my man of the match's for either team last night tells me that it was a tight and narrow encounter.

The major tactical mis-judgement for me was not playing Clichy on the left hand side because Napoli would always hit quick, direct and hard on the break. But you look at the people who didn't play, Richards and Clichy in particular, and you can understand why the width was lacking.

My only, only, concern with City this season is Lescott. I've never rated him that highly and commentators just seem to say 'oh its ok at least he tried' but positionally he's suspect and if he pressed better then maybe Napoli would have had less opportunities. City's movement in the Premier League is obviously channel orientated with Aguero/Nasri/Silva moving inbetween the lines picking up the ball in tight spaces but the problem with that against a 5 man defence is it's always going to end up a 1 vs 1 match up without too much space. The fact that Gargano played fantastic is the main reason why City drew this in my opinion, Walter was fantastic. (Both of them)

I still back City even off the back of that display, surprised hardly anyone in the media has jumped on the back of Gareth Barry's stupidity costing City that goal though. Would they have conducted the same conservative silence if it was Torres that tried that flick and conceded? I think no is the answer...
 

ajt09

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if they cant evan beat napoli at home with all them star names how the **** are they going to win the champions league bayern are a lot more stronger team then naploi and i think city with struggle in that game to and am not just saying this because am a man united fan
Napoli are a good side though, and I think for some players of City it was probably nerves too-and the goal they conceded was sloppy. Some have never played CL football. Now that the first CL game is out the way, they won't make the same sloppy mistake again. Because Mancini knows they can't afford to
 
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Trophy_Whorder

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your spot on some of city players havent played in the cl and this is why i do feel they will struggle a point to napoli is a good result but man city in my personal veiw on them all hype
 

*Jones*

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I think a lot of people are underestimating Napoli slightly saying City should've wiped the floor with them. In Hamsik, Lavezzi and Cavani they have 3 of the best attacking players in the world. 3 players who could all play for City.

Can they win the champions league? Yes, I think they can. If they get the right draw then definitely. It just depends when they get Barcelona.
 

GodCubed

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I think they definitely can. Barcelona aren't unbeatable: Mourinho did it (admittedly with the help of one of the best defensive displays ever in European football and a whacking great volcano) and City certainly can. They've got talent all over the pitch. Barcelona showed against Milan that they're vulnerable to two things: pace and set-pieces, both of which City are proficient at providing.

---------- Post added at 05:26 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:25 PM ----------

if they cant evan beat napoli at home with all them star names how the **** are they going to win the champions league bayern are a lot more stronger team then naploi and i think city with struggle in that game to and am not just saying this because am a man united fan
Barcelona (far better team than City) drew with Milan (only slightly better than Napoli) at home. One game does not a Champions League winner make.
 

*Jones*

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Typical that Barry starts the season so well, then goes back to being ****.

City need De Jong back, especially for Europe.
 

Mads2506

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if they cant evan beat napoli at home with all them star names how the **** are they going to win the champions league bayern are a lot more stronger team then naploi and i think city with struggle in that game to and am not just saying this because am a man united fan
If Barca can't even beat Real Sociedad, how could they win the Champions League?

very true if man city do win the cl i class it as a fluke
Of course you would.
 

Quasit

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I think City will get through, but I think Bayern will win this season. Milan could also be a surprise contender for trophy if they manage to reinforce their team in january. ( LB and Creative Mid. )

Last 4: A.C Milan, Barcelona, Bayern and Utd.
 

Trophy_Whorder

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well they play a b team vs Real Sociedad, so in the champions league there play there first team there for barcelona should win the cl as there are ranked favorites to win
 
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