Now that the draw has been made for the Champions’ League group stage, the competition has taken shape. Manchester City have not been dealt a kind hand heading into the elite tournament, but there are some mouth-watering match-ups ahead for the Sky Blues. The following is an assessment of the Premier League champions’ chances, and the teams they shall face:
The German giants need very little introduction. 5 time winners of the European Cup, they are considered amongst the greatest sides in world football history. The current crop is doing more than their fair share to maintain the club’s proud heritage as well, with many billing Pep Guardiola’s side as the greatest since the unforgettable team which conquered Europe on three consecutive occasions between 1973 and 1976.
Arjen Robben is arguably Bayern’s star performer, but in Thomas Muller the club has one of the continent’s rising talents. They may have lost Toni Kroos, but they’ve gained the experienced Xabi Alonso, and the high-profiled centre-back Mehdi Benatia.
In Pep Guardiola they have a young manger who already has 2 Champions’ League winners’ medals from his time at Barcelona, and a Bundesliga victory from his debut campaign at the head of Munich. The team will still be smarting from a humiliating defeat to Real Madrid in the semi-finals of last year’s European Cup however – they may prove a wounded giant to be especially feared.
The reigning league champions in Russia, CSKA are one of those lower seeds that the big clubs hope to avoid. Though the competition is not as fierce in their home country, they have the habit of winning, and they have masses of Champions’ League experience as a result.
That being said, they may have played in the competition on more occasions than City, but they shouldn’t prove too much of a problem for Manuel Pellegrini. There are few especially dangerous player’s in their line-up, although the Sky Blues should expect a physical match. With the likes of Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany and Edin Dzeko in their own ranks, however, they should be able to compete quite comfotably.
The Serie A runners-up could prove a particularly painful thorn in the sides of either City or Bayern. Whilst the English and German clubs should be favourites to progress, the Italian’s are by no means a pushover. Rudi Garcia is running a tight ship in the Italian capital, and they can prove very hard to play against on their day.
Francesco Totti is a club legend, and a legend of Italian football in general. The forward’s vice-captain, Daniele De Rossi also has star quality, as does Maicon, new signing Kostas Manolas, and former Chelsea star Ashley Cole. Should Garcia successfully keep hold of Kevin Strootman and Mattia Destro for the remainder of the transfer window, then Roma will line up dangerously strong.
On paper Manchester City should get through their group, but on the pitch they may not. Picking up points against Bayern Munich is amongst the most difficult of tasks in all of European football, so baring some impressive victories Kompany and co, could find themselves fighting for second spot. Should that be the case then Roma will prove very tricky customers. City should beat CSKA, but even that isn’t a foregone conclusion.
They are a team that is in the ascendency though, and they will get through their group. They have the power and ability to beat Bayern, and the match-ups against the German side will prove vital. Should City sneak top spot, then they will look very strong contenders for the competition overall.