3 reasons Manchester City will win this year’s Champions League
Citizens on course for European glory
Nobody can stop Manchester City right now. Pep Guardiola’s men sit five points top of the Premier League table with a +29 goal difference. And they’ve now booked a place in the last 16 of the Champions League with an imperious 4-2 victory at Napoli.
As it stands, the Citizens are 9/2 second favourites to lift the trophy for the first time in their history. But even at that price, the Coral News Team think the Sky Blues offer good value. Here’s why…
No tactical approach can stop their frontline
City’s last five Prem and UCL opponents have all attempted different tactical set-ups from one another in hopes of a result. All have failed. Pep’s charges have won all six games (facing Napoli twice), scoring 20 goals in the process.
Napoli stuck with their usual 4-3-3 at the Stadio San Paolo last night. And despite that fairly attacking set-up, they’ve been defensively solid at home this term. The Calabrian club had conceded just three goals from their seven prior home games this term, but were seen off 4-2 by the swashbuckling visitors.
That made the Sky Blues the first visitors to score four in Naples in 69 games, since Lazio achieved the feat in May 2015.
Before that, West Bromwich Albion had tried to pack the midfield with a 3-5-2, and still shipped three goals to the visitors at The Hawthorns.
Meanwhile, Stoke City’s adventurous 4-3-1-2 saw them register twice at the Etihad, but they did lose 7-2 in the process. And as for Chelsea, their 5-2-1-2 saw them struggle to break down a solid City defence at Stamford Bridge, with the visitors securing a vital 1-0 victory.
With threats throughout their midfield and attack, from the dynamic wing play of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane to the surging creativity of Kevin De Bruyne and ruthless finishing of Sergio Aguero, they’re proving impossible to contain.
Pep’s UCL heritage coming to the fore
Manchester City only made it to the last 16 of the competition in 2016-17, following an away-goals exit to Monaco. But that was an exception to the rule as far as Guardiola is concerned.
Their boss knows exactly what it takes to succeed in this competition. Not only has he won the competition twice as manager with Barcelona, he also reached the Semi-Finals of the tournament in seven consecutive seasons as a manager – first with Blaugrana, and then Bayern Munich.
City fans will be encouraged by the fact the Spaniard’s biggest triumph came with a side very much like their own. Pep’s continent-conquering Barca side dominated the UCL with a 4-3-3 setup based on pacy wide forwards – the exact set-up the Sky Blues went with for the recent victories over Napoli and Shakhtar Donetsk.
The North-West giants are also playing a similar style of possession-based attacking football to that Barca side – with the same focus on neat passing interchanges. Guardiola knows how to lead a side in this mould to glory, and there’s every reason to think he’ll do so once again.
Last year’s UCL powers stuttering
As it stands, none of last year’s Champions League Semi-Finalists are top of their UCL group or their domestic league. Real Madrid and Juventus are second in their groups, while Atletico Madrid and Monaco are virtually certain to be eliminated at this stage.
That drop off in quality from the competition’s big powers is almost unheard of, and means this is the ideal opportunity for the Citizens to impose themselves on the competition.
In terms of the other sides who are shining thus far, City have the tools to beat them. Liverpool are top of Group E, but suffered a 5-0 mauling at the Etihad last month.
Meanwhile, Pep showed he can get the measure of his old club Barcelona last season, with a far less impressive City side still running out easy 3-1 winners against the Spanish heavyweights in Manchester.
And his intimate knowledge of Bayern Munich’s squad could also prove a key factor in the Sky Blues’ favour if the sides meet.
Next up for Man City is a chance to continue their dominance at the top of the Premier League table, with 4/9 for the hosts to beat Arsenal in M11.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing