Manchester City is breaking records in England, on the eve of the knockout stages of a Champions League dreamed of for a decade.
What if this was Manchester City’s year? The chorus is well known to football fans. The Emirati company City Football Group bought the English club in 2008, with the ambition to make them one of the best teams in Europe, a bit like the Qatari project at PSG launched three years later. And as in Paris, we smile at City: 14 trophies in 12 years, including 4 English league titles. But as in Paris, we cringe at the mere mention of the Champions League, a justice of the peace when it comes to determining who are the biggest clubs on the continent. Manchester City has never reached the final of C1, despite massive investments in almost every transfer window. Worse: since the hiring in 2016 of Pep Guardiola, considered the best coach in the world, City has not seen the last four of the so prestigious competition. Years of doubts and frustrations that the Skyblues think they will finally sweep away in 2021. And there is reason to believe it.
“Each time, we are focused on the next game. It’s our secret.”
It is in Budapest, Hungary, that Manchester City will attack their Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday. It will be “at” the German club Borussia Mönchengladbach, health context requires. A relocation which the men of Marco Rose would have gladly done without. They remain in 4 games without a win in the Bundesliga, a dynamic contrary to that of City. With a series of 18 successes in all competitions in progress, the Citizens have set a new record for an English club. It is also unheard of in the coaching career of Pep Guardiola, who nevertheless coached FC Barcelona (2008-2012) and Bayern Munich (2013-2016). “We managed to win so many matches because each time, we are focused on the next one. It’s our secret, ”Guardiola deciphered after a victory in control at Arsenal on Sunday (0-1).
Manchester City’s victory in Marseille last November (1-3)
In the Premier League, the title almost in the pocket
It makes you wonder what will stop Manchester City, which are already 10 points ahead of their rival Mancunien at the top of the Premier League. The wounds ? Kevin De Bruyne, playing master of the Citizens, missed 7 matches between January and February. Anything but a problem when you have Phil Foden (20) to relay it. “At his age, Phil Foden is the most talented player I have ever seen as a player and as a coach,” said Guardiola, former coach of a certain Lionel Messi. All lights are green at City, between a multitasking João Cancelo in his right lane, a serial midfielder with Ilkay Gündogan and a – finally – impermeable defense, with 2 goals conceded in the last 10 league matches.
But then what can Gladbach and his French double in attack, Marcus Thuram and Alassane Pléa, hope for? “We’re going to need courage and energy,” said Marco Rose. We don’t just want to defend but also to play football. ” A thorny problem for Rose. If her team finds out, she will be punished. So should we “park the bus” and pray to mark a misunderstanding? Everton coach Carlo Ancelotti developed a solid strategy with a low block to slow Guardiola’s men on February 17. The Toffees held their ground until halftime (1-1) before shattering in the second half, facing the talent of Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva (1-3). Of course, the inherent uncertainty in football allows the suspense to remain intact before this round of 16 first leg. Moreover, Manchester City has taken a bad habit of disappointing in the Champions League, just last summer, in the quarterfinals in Lisbon against Lyon (1-3). But this year the sky has never been so blue for the Skyblues.
Thuram’s double against Real Madrid last October (2-2)