Manchester City’s quest to finally conquer Europe will resume on Wednesday when Pep Guardiola’s charges travel to Leipzig, but all is not well for the English champions on and off the pitch.
City seemed to have put a dent in the Premier League title race with a 3-1 away win over leading Arsenal last week, but then lost two points late in Saturday’s 1-1 loss to Nottingham Forest.
They are also playing under clouds after the Premier League accused them of more than 100 financial irregularities since the 2009/10 season.
Defender Kyle Walker called City’s negligence in losing first place in the Premier League at the weekend unacceptable.
Sometimes it’s soccer and sometimes it’s emotion, he said. You have to treat every game the same – like a cup final.
A two-point deficit at the top of the table could turn into five if Arsenal win their game against struggling Everton.
City’s lack of consistency in their performances worries Guardiola ahead of his team’s return to the competition they crave most.
City has never won the Champions League, and Guardiola, who won the trophy twice as Barcelona manager, has not done so since 2011, his penultimate season at Camp Nou.
The signing of Erling Haaland was expected to be the final piece in solving City’s puzzle in Europe.
The Norwegian scored 32 goals in all competitions, which was expected of him. Nevertheless, Haaland’s arrival is one of the factors used to explain City’s decline in collective standards this season.
The defending champions have scored 20 points in 24 games – compared to 21 points in the entire 2021/22 campaign.
Going after it
Despite Haaland’s goal, City scored more goals as a team at this point last season.
Defensively, they also look more vulnerable, not helped by Guardiola’s desire to let Joao Cancelo go on loan to Bayern, leaving him without a natural left-back.
In the last two weeks alone, Nathan Ake, Aymeric Laporte, Rico Lewis and even creative midfielder Bernardo Silva have been reassigned to the left flank of defense.
Guardiola said he was encouraged by City’s play against Forest, despite the lack of a killer instinct that cost them two points.
Manchester City’s quest to finally conquer Europe will resume on Wednesday when Pep Guardiola’s charges travel to Leipzig, but all is not well for the English champions on and off the field.
Ci.yu for the Champions League should not be difficult. Third-choice goalkeeper Scott Carson is the only member of Guardiola’s team to have previously won this competition when he was at Liverpool.
We’re coming for it, goalkeeper Ederson said of City’s ambition to win the Champions League.
I think we are a great quality group and it shows how much the club has developed in the last five or six years: Premier League titles, Carabao (League) Cup, FA Cup, Community Shields.
So this title is what the club needs. It’s what we athletes need, and it’s what Guardiola needs here at the club. This year, we’re going to try harder. We’re going to strive for that.
Also an added incentive may be that City do not know for sure when they will get another chance to play in the Champions League, as City were indicted earlier this month for financial irregularities.
If City is found guilty, the club, which has played 12 consecutive seasons in Europe’s elite tournament, could be punished with more points or even relegation.
a world for lack of hunger and desire to stay on top in England, which is an uncharacteristic approach for the former Barça and Bayern coach.