While Manchester City wait to find out who they will play in the Group stage of this years Champions League I figured why not look into the relationship City have had with European nights over the years.
Some in the media would have you believe that City's European adventure started a few years back, and after the injection of Sheikh Mansour's billions. The truth is far from that, and certainly far from straight forward and hopefully this article can rectify some of those misconceptions.
City, although domestically successful in the mid 1950's when European Competition began, did not participate. UEFA had initially hoped that City would take United's place after the Munich Air Disaster in 1958, which took the lives of so many players, and of course ex City Keeper Frank Swift. City rejected that out of hand and instead would wait a decade in order to qualify as League Champions in 1968. It wasn't great though and the side went out with a whimper, despite Malcolm Allison's best attempts to talk the boys up, in the first round thanks to Fenerbache.
The UEFA Cup followed after the 1969 FA Cup win and City were a little more modest, and much more successful. That was no thanks to the English governing body though, who insisted domestic competition should take priority. As a result the first leg of their Quarter Final game in Portugal would take place only three days before the League Cup Final City were also in. City won in Europe, went on to beat West Brom in the League Cup Final before eventually also lifting the European trophy. That, by the way, made City the first English side to lift European and Domestic silverware in the same season, all without the English TV Cameras. British Television had decided not to show the game live as the FA Cup Final had gone to a replay and so the game between Leeds and Chelsea, played at Old Trafford, was shown. So while, the British cameras were focused on Manchester, Manchester City were making English history in Vienna.
There would be a series of European nights for Manchester City in the 1970's before the barren spells of the 1980's and 1990's before returning to European action in the 2000's. Had it not been for the ban from Europe of Rnglish sides after the Heysel Stadium disaster the clubs fifth place finish in both 1991 and 1992 would have seen City qualify for the UEFA Cup.
2002 saw the return of European football through the new Fair Play ranking. The first game in Europe for City in 24 years would also be the first competitive one at the new City of Manchester Stadium, with City fan Trevor Sinclair scoring the first competitive goal.
Recent City European exploits have seen the adoption of the Poznan, Carlos Tevez refusing to play and some really highly exciting, very emotional nights. The last minute header missed by Joe Hart, the great comeback against Bayern and the promise of more to come.
Some of you may not know but City will play their 100th competitive European game this season. Currently on 94 games (in all competitions) the last group game, no matter the progression status, will be that century. For Champions League statistics, City currently stand at 28 games played with 10 wins, 7 draws and 11 defeats. Scoring 45 goals, they are also only five away from a half century of competitive Champions League goals.
City will find out later who will be the other three teams in their group, but which nations have City done best, and worst, against? In all European competitions we have played Germany on fifteen occasions, beating them six times and beating beat seven. Countries we have faced and never beat are English sides (although we need not fear that in the Group stage), Turkish sides and the French! So watch out for PSG, Lyon and Galatasary.
Who should we be hoping to get? Historically City have never lost to Austrian, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Faroe Islands, Hungary, Romania, Wales, Greece and Portugal. So, with that in mind, bring on Benfica and Olympiacos!
Knowing the recent ‘luck of the draw' City have encountered I see City being in a group with Juventus, Lyon and Wolfsburg, but am hoping for Zenit, Olympiacos and Malmo.