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Manchester City’s Road To Istanbul: The Group Stage

A Look Back At City’s Journey to the Champions League Final

Manchester City v Sevilla FC: Group G - UEFA Champions League Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Manchester City take on Inter Milan on Saturday night with the winner being crowned the Champions of Europe. Inter are going for their fourth crown and the blues will win it for the first time if the overcome the Italian side.

To prepare for what could be the crowning glory of City’s season, we look back at the matches that have taken the blues through to Istanbul, starting with the group stages.

The Draw

Predictably, having signed Erling Haaland in the summer, City were drawn against his former club Borussia Dortmund, whilst elsewhere, Sevilla and FC Copenhagen also entered City’s group.

Sevilla qualified after an excellent season saw them finish fourth in La Liga. Copenhagen won the Danish Superliga by four points. Dortmund had finished second, eight points behind champions Bayern.

The blues had decent records against all three sides. In February 2009, City faced Copenhagen in what was then known as the UEFA Cup. After a 2-2 draw in Denmark, City beat the Danes 2-1 in Manchester to progress.

City had faced Sevilla in the 2015 group stage and won both matches, 2-1 at home and 3-1 in Spain, while Dortmund had proved the most difficult opposition. The teams first met in 2012, with the home match finishing 1-1 and the blues losing 1-0 in Germany. in 2021, The pair again faced each other in the quarter-final, with the blues coming out on top, winning both matches 2-1.

The Group Matches

City opened their group matches in Spain and Haaland wasted no time in getting started. The striker scored after just 20 minutes. Phil Foden grabbed City’s second on 58 minutes, while Haaland scored his second and City’s third nine minutes later. The blues were cruising and the icing was put on the cake when Ruben Dias hit home the fourth in injury time to give the blues a 4-0 win.

Dortmund were next and the German side provided a stronger opposition to the blues. A tough game saw five bookings, three for the visitors and two for City, Jude Bellingham gave Dortmund the lead on 56 minutes, but goals from Phil Foden (80) and Haaland (84) gave the blues the points.

Haaland grabbed his third and fourth goals of the competition as Copenhagen came to town. The Norwegian scored after just seven minutes, and doubled City’s lead on 32. An own goal by Davit Khochlava gifted the blues a 3-0 half-time lead. Riyad Mahrez hit City’s fourth from the penalty spot ten minutes into the second half, and Julian Alvarez scored his first Champions League goal on 76 minutes as City crushed the Danish side.

The return match in Denmark yielded no goals, although Rodri had a goal disallowed for handball in the build-up, while Mahrez missed a penalty. On 30 minutes, Sergio Gomez was sent off for a late challenge on Hákon Haraldsson. Despite this, City qualified for the last 16 thanks to Sevilla’s 1-1 draw with Dortmund later that evening.

The match at Dortmund also ended goalless but, for a second successive Champions League match, Mahrez missed a penalty. Both sides had chances to score but failed to take them, but when Mahrez was brought down in the box after a clumsy challenge from Emre Can, the Algerian stepped up but saw his spot-kick saved by the keeper. The result, however, confirmed City as group winners and a place in the seeded group in the last eight.

Finishing off the group stage saw Sevilla arrive in Manchester, and the blues had to come from a goal down to win 3-1. Rico Lewis scored his first senior goal before Alvarez gave City the lead on 73 minutes.

Mahrez made the match safe ten minutes later as City progressed from the group with four wins and two draws. The blues had scored 14 and conceded just two in an already impressive campaign, and were drawn against German side RB Leipzig in the knock-out stage.