Battered and bruised in the last decade, especially under Pep Guardiola, Manchester City have finally come of age. Although the team has been impeccable in the domestic scene under the Catalan manager, European adventure has been marred by painful disappointments and dashed hopes.
The club has come close to ending the ordeal but a shock defeat against Chelsea in 2021 meant the team even touched success yet could not grab it. Another surprise aggregate 6-5 semi-final defeat against eventual winners Real Madrid last term added to a long list of shocking defeats suffered over the years.
Under Guardiola, it all began with a 6-6 aggregate score against Monaco. City were then booted out of the competition on away goals rule in the round of 16 back in 2017. By 2019, the club suffered a similar fate against Tottenham in the quarter-final stage.
But perhaps the most shocking result was an incredible 3-1 quarter-final collapse against Lyon in 2020. It was a game that was there for the taking, yet the team managed to lose to an opponent that was nowhere near City’s level.
In 2021 the team finally made it to the UCL final. Something that could be considered long overdue. Going in as favourites against Chelsea, the Blues came up short. Again.
But each failure has been breeding the ground for future success. Is this the year the club finally achieves the much sought-after goal of winning the Champions League? City’s results in the competition so far suggest that could be the case.
Six clean sheets in ten games so far with 26 goals scored and this is a balanced team both defensively and offensively. Over the years this balance in defence and attack has been a key sticking point for the team. Guardiola has often set up the team in a way that prioritises attack over defence.
While scoring goals is important to win games, leaving the back door open is usually a recipe for failure. Although the team could be seen as unlucky to have gone out twice based on away goals even when they scored the same number of goals as the opponents, winning the game outright is always preferable.
Scoring three or more goals in five of the wins this season shows the ruthlessness required to go all the way. The 4-1 aggregate win over Bayern Munich was particularly outstanding. Approaching the next opponents Real Madrid in the same manner will most likely produce a positive outcome. Get past the Spanish giants and it’s almost certain City will conquer Europe.
If that happens, it will be due in no small part to lessons from the failures of the last several years.