Manchester City: Struggling but on the Verge of European Success?

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City honeymoon has been over for quite some time. The Blues won their first ten matches in all competitions under the Spaniard but City have struggled to inspire confidence throughout the majority of the season. In fact, Guardiola’s men have won just one of their last four top-flight fixtures and the title is slowly but surely slipping out of reach.

City have slipped out of the top four in recent weeks and it would be fair to state that all is NOT fine and dandy at the Etihad Stadium. Guardiola is under intense pressure to deliver unprecedented levels of success and the Pep project hasn’t worked just yet. City’s usually aggressive offence have been profligate in front of goal – netting 43 times this season; only the fifth-highest tally in the division.

Meanwhile, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi have struggled to perform well on a consistent basis this season and their lacklustre effort in defence has contributed to City’s demise. The Blues have conceded 28 goals so far this campaign – more than all six of their title rivals. To put their poor record into perspective, Tony Pulis’ West Bromwich Albion have also conceded 28 goals in 22 games this season.

However, City could decide to harness all of their efforts on winning the Champions League this year. Guardiola won Europe’s elite club competition twice whilst manager of Barcelona but failed to lead Bayern Munich to success in the tournament. Last season, City reached the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time under Manuel Pellegrini and Pep could be the man to take the Blues to the next level on the European scene.

Guardiola’s men showed their mettle in a tough group; beating Barcelona and Borussia Monchengladbach on their way to reaching the next round. Pep’s side missed out on top spot but managed to avoid the likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in the next round. As of January 23rd, City are 11/1 with Betway to win the Champions League this season and Pep’s influence will be crucial in determining their fate at the business end of the campaign.

Next up for the Blues in the last-16 stage is a double header with Monaco. The current Ligue 1 leaders have scored more goals than anybody else in European football’s top four divisions and their two victories over Tottenham Hotspur in the group stages should remind Guardiola just how dangerous they can be. Write Monaco off at your peril; they have the talent to make you pay and City cannot afford to adopt a gung-ho approach.

With Guardiola steering the ship, City could be set for more Champions League success in the near future. Pep’s style of play suits the European game and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the Blues emulate last season’s run to the semi-finals. From there, Guardiola could take City to the showpiece event in Cardiff as they look to show the world that they deserve to be classed as one of European football’s modern powerhouses.

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