Manchester City are under more pressure than ever before to win the Champions League having surrendered their Premier League crown to Liverpool. Pep Guardiola’s men were outstanding for the past two seasons in the English top-flight, winning the title with a level of excellence not seen in the Premier League era.
However, the Spaniard has watched his side fail three times on the bounce in Europe and he will be feeling the heat more than most to deliver the Champions League crown. It is one of the few criticisms that have been levied against Guardiola. Since his departure from Barcelona, he has not been able to win the ultimate prize in Europe during his time with Bayern Munich, and his four years at the Etihad Stadium.
Given Liverpool’s exploits by triumphing in Europe after failing to win the Premier League title, City will be expected to match them. Because of this, they are the leading contenders in the betting odds on Champions League to lift the trophy in May at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul. It will be a massive challenge due to the quality of the teams left in the competition and the inconsistent form the Citizens have displayed throughout the current campaign.
As a result, the spotlight is on City more than ever to capitalize on their window. Guardiola has not been at his best in knockout games. Without Lionel Messi to bail him out of trouble, he has watched his Bayern team defeated by Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid in three-straight semi-finals. Other than the losses to Liverpool and Spurs, his City team were stunned by Monaco in the round of 16 in 2017.
He cannot afford to see his team underperform once again, although their defensive lapses of late will be a huge cause for concern amid the attacking talent that they will face in the latter stages. Aymeric Laporte’s return to fitness will be crucial to shore up the backline, while the rest of the side will have to be flawless. There can be no weak links against Real and beyond for City this time.