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One Down, Two More to Go for Manchester City

Blues Closing In On Triple Success

Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester City - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Leg One Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images

This title refers literally to both the games in the Champions League and the trophies on offer for the Cityzens this season. The team put behind the disappointment of losing the FA Cup semi-final to Chelsea by beating Tottenham to secure the first trophy of the campaign. The Premier League title is set to follow, and then there is the Champions League.

As for the games in the competition, only two remain to be finally crowned European champions. The team needs to keep Paris Saint-Germain from scoring more than a goal without reply or from winning altogether at the Etihad Stadium. That would be enough to secure a place in the final.

And if City do pull this off, the team can fancy its chances in the final against any of Chelsea or Real Madrid. Like the encounter against the French champions, it will be anybody’s game.

That said, City will be huge favourites.

This team has come of age. It has been a gradual and painful process to get here. But both the manager and players have learned their lessons over the years. Recovering from a goal down at half-time to win 2-1 in such a decisive and determined fashion away from home proves just how far this team has come.

It used to be that the players get jittery at the latter stages of the competition and lose their composure, allowing the opponent to take advantage. Players like Ilkay Gundogan came out to state the fact two seasons ago after the brutal quarter-final elimination at the hands of Tottenham. Last season, it was most exemplified by Raheem Sterling’s incredible open-goal miss against Lyon.

The French side led 2-1 at the time and the winger’s 85th-minute horror miss could have restored parity. But the French side went ahead to add another late goal to run away with a surprise 3-1 victory. Sterling’s equaliser would have tipped the scales perfectly in City’s favour. But the winger somehow managed to take the harder option by putting the ball wide instead of just guiding it into the back of an open net.

Strange things happen when you are nervous. Even simple things can become complicated. It’s rather surprising that the two players City relied on the most in the last few years to take the team further in the competition (Sterling and Sergio Aguero), failed at the most important moments.

Aguero’s penalty miss away at Spurs condemned City to elimination in the end. Maybe Guardiola keeps both players on the bench (even when fit) for such crucial games these days for that very reason.

New heroes have emerged in Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez. For the crucial games against Borussia Dortmund and PSG, the duo has been phenomenal. Foden scored in both legs against the German side while Mahrez has delivered two sumptuous strikes in the last two European outings.

The Algerian kept his cool to grab the equaliser from the penalty spot against Dortmund in the quarter-final. He fired home the winner against PSG from a free-kick outside the box this time around. That leaves City with the job of simply protecting their lead in the reverse fixture come Tuesday.

Suffice to say though that the job is not yet done. The two-legged encounter is just halfway through. When you face a team parading the likes of the slick Angel Di Maria, slippery Neymar and deadly Kylian Mbappe, you can’t afford to be caught off-guard.

They are all experienced goalscorers and winners with several medals in their cabinet starting from different categories of the World Cup to the Champions League itself. So both Pep Guardiola and his boys should see this as just a step forward in the quest for European glory.

The job is not done yet. There are still 90 minutes to play at the Etihad Stadium. For now, it’s just one down. There are two more to go. The players must stay focused and not get carried away.