Despite a shock home defeat at the hands of ten-man Leeds United, Manchester City are still firmly on course to regain the English Premier League title in 2020/21. Pep Guardiola’s men sit 11 points clear of city rivals Manchester United, who could move to within eight points of City by winning their game in-hand.
The reality is that it’s still City’s title to lose. United can only achieve a maximum of 84 points and City’s significantly improved goal difference to United’s means that Guardiola’s men need just ten points from their final six games to win the championship. It will be a full circle experience for Guardiola’s troops who were forced to watch Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool storm to the EPL title for the first time last June. Furthermore, City have channelled the disappointment of last season into dominating every single competition they’ve entered this year.
The Carabao Cup has been dominated by City in recent years
So much so that Man City are still on course to achieve an historic quadruple in 2020/21. City are set to lock horns with Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham in the Carabao Cup final and they face Chelsea soon in the last four of the FA Cup. The Carabao Cup is certainly one that City have dominated of late, winning the last four competitions. The only danger for City is that Spurs have nothing else to realistically play for. They are already out of the FA Cup and a recent defeat to Manchester United in the league has put any hopes of finishing in the top four in jeopardy.
Will City finally get their hands on the Champions League?
The one trophy that everyone at the Etihad Stadium is desperate to claim is the UEFA Champions League. City have invested hundreds of millions of pounds in pursuit of dominating European football and so far this as eluded them. The closest they came was in 2016 when they lost to Real Madrid in the semi-finals. This year looks like their best chance of securing the Champions League.
FOX Bet, a US-based sports betting portal, has City priced as short as +175 to win the Champions League for the first time this summer and with good reason. Providing City can get past Dortmund they will be just two semi-final legs from a final appearance for the first time. Interestingly, their biggest rival for the Champions League could be an English rival in the shape of Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea. They took a two-goal lead into their quarter-final second leg with FC Porto to put them in an unassailable position. The Blues aren’t in a position to compete for the EPL so will be putting all their eggs in their Champions League basket.
One of the main reasons why City have become increasingly favoured by the bookmakers in the Champions League markets is their renewed defensive steel. City have developed a solidity that fans and pundits alike haven’t yet seen in Guardiola’s reign. Historically, Guardiola’s City have outscored teams and been less interested in shutting teams out. However, they appear to have developed a new backbone that enables them to keep clean sheets and with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Sergio Agüero and Kevin De Bruyne at the other end of the field it makes things much easier to win keenly contested games. In the 2020/21 EPL season, City have conceded just 23 goals in 32 games to date. Added to that, they are also the league’s top goal scorers by some considerable margin.
It’s been a decade since Pep Guardiola last won the Champions League as a manager with FC Barcelona. During that time, many have pondered whether Guardiola overthinks the biggest games and overcomplicates matters. It feels like going back to basics and becoming hard to beat, with a healthy dose of firepower, has been a much-needed formula for City this term.
The lack of Champions League silverware is also one of the main reasons why Guardiola has stuck around at the Etihad Stadium. Despite many reports and rumours linking the Spaniard with a return to the Camp Nou in recent years, Guardiola has remained loyal to the City cause. Guardiola’s current contract expires in the summer of 2023 but winning the quadruple would certainly feel like an opportune moment to bow out, having achieved the pinnacle in English football.