Premier League champions Manchester City fell just short of their dream to win the Champions League season with a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in the final.
With lessons learned from the heartbreak of the last term and with the side building up some impressive form, City is showing positive signs they can go one better in Europe this season.
Guardiola Looking to End Euro Title Wait
A two-time winner of the Champions League with Barcelona, Pep Guardiola last lifted the European trophy in 2011. City, who are currently priced at odds of +275 in the Champions League betting odds to win the title this season, look capable of ending Guardiola’s wait to get his hands back on the prestigious trophy. The Citizens have coped well with the departure of star forward Sergio Aguero at the end of last season, with Guardiola often playing without a recognized striker on the field.
The ‘false nine’ tactic has been working well for a City side who finished ahead of a star-studded Paris Saint-Germain side in their Champions League group and has also been impressing in the Premier League. With 18 wins in their first 23 games in the league, City has built up a commanding lead at the top of the standings and will take some stopping to be denied what would be a sixth Premier League crown.
England Players Can Play Key Role
While City’s squad is blessed with talented players from all over the globe, a spine of English stars could be key in delivering that first Champions League title. In a top-quality defense, John Stones continues to play an important role at center-back. The former Barnsley starlet often brings out the ball from the back to start attacks, while he also poses a threat in the opposition’s box with his ability in the air.
Moving into the midfield Jack Grealish appears to be settling more into his role at City following his big-money move from Aston Villa last summer. It’s fair to say the 26-year-old has taken some time to adapt to Guardiola’s style of play but the attacking midfielder is an intelligent footballer and his influence is starting to be felt on the field.
Finally, in attack, fellow Englishman Phil Foden is also adapting to his role in a more advanced position than we have seen from the academy product in the past. Foden has been used by Guardiola in a front three to great effect and it will be something for England manager Gareth Southgate to consider as the Three Lions build towards the World Cup in Qatar later this year. Foden also has the benefit of playing alongside countryman Raheem Sterling, who again is another English talent who has greatly helped the City cause this season.
With a core of England players and a manager who is as hungry as ever to get back to the top of Europe, City looks like they will take some stopping to be denied the Champions League this year.