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Could The Ultimate Prize Evade Guardiola At City?

Pep Guardiola

Manchester City have enjoyed an excellent start to the season and are seemingly on their way to securing back-to-back Premier League titles. Manchester United were the last team to earn repeat crowns in the top flight, achieving the feat in the 2007/08 and 2008/09 campaigns. Since then, reigning champions have been unable to retain the title, which has even seen two managers sacked the year after lifting the trophy.

However, City appear to be immune to those impediments, making an unbeaten start to the term, dropping only four points from their opening 13 matches. Pep Guardiola’s men have been dominant, scoring 40 goals, while conceding just five in the process. Liverpool have made a quality start to the campaign themselves, but are still trailing City at the top of the table.

Having won the Premier League crown last season, the ultimate for City this term is the Champions League – the only feat that has evaded their grasp since the takeover of the club in 2008 by Sheikh Mansour. They came closest in the 2015/16 season under the charge of Manuel Pellegrini when they were defeated in the semi-finals by Real Madrid.

City’s first two seasons with Guardiola in the dugout have ended in disappointment, failing to progress beyond the quarter-final stage. The Spaniard won the Champions League twice during his tenure at Barcelona, per , defeating Manchester United twice.

However, European success evaded him with Bayern Munich, falling at the semi-final stage three times in a row. Although City’s exploits in the domestic game are going for strength-to-strength, there is pressure in their European campaign. The club are 7/2 in the odds on Champions League winner 2019 betting markets to lift the crown for the first time, per , although their term got off to the worst possible start with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Lyon.

City managed to recover and have secured their spot in the next round of the competition. Lyon proved to be a tough opponent once again for Guardiola’s men, playing out a 2-2 draw at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais, as reported by . City have been dominant in the Premier League and their brilliance will likely see them retain their domestic crown, but the danger of the Champions League is that they can be bested in one-off matches.

Liverpool rose to the occasion brilliantly last season in the quarter-finals to claim a 3-0 victory at Anfield before recording 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium. Their two matches against Lyon have highlighted the issue once again as City would have been knocked out of the competition had they had met the French side in the knockout phase. There are quality teams that City will face in the latter stages of the Champions League, which will require Guardiola’s side to be firing on all cylinders.

During his time with Bayern, his team were perhaps the victims of their own success with the Bundesliga crown already wrapped up before the late stages of the season. As a result, the intensity of their play was not at peak form for the Champions League semi-finals. Fate could conspire in the same formula at City, which could see the ultimate success evade Guardiola once again.