In 2018, Manchester City achieved something that no other Premier League team had done until that moment. They finished the season at the top of the table with 100 points, the only team to ever have finished the season with a triple-digit points tally.
In doing so, they won the Premier League title for a third time, demonstrating an unparalleled level of dominance that not even Manchester United had achieved before them. They’d won 32 of their 38 games, losing only two and drawing four. United, their closest rival that season had seven losses and six draws, ending the season with 19 less points than their neighbours.
No one thought that they would be able to reach those heights again. Nor did they think that any other team would come close to reaching that magic 100 points tally any time soon. But people were only half right.
As the next season began, fans and pundits alike were expecting another walkover for City, dominating the Premier League in a similar way to the season before, but not quite reaching 100 points. In many ways that’s what City did. Come the end of the 2018/19 season, they had managed to secure 98 points, just two less than their record tally.
They lost just four games, and drew another two, achieving another 32 win record.
Yet, for all of this dominance, they were joined at the top of the table by a resurgent Liverpool. With 97 points, Liverpool had put in a similarly impressive performance, and in almost any other year would have easily walked their way to a Premier League title.
Jurgen Klopp’s Reds had to “settle” for a Champions League title, their sixth overall. While impressive, Liverpool wanted the Premier League title more than anything and losing by a single point was heartbreaking.
City were knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16 by Tottenham Hotspur, the team that would go on to challenge Liverpool in the final. They did though, go on to win the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup, completing the domestic treble.
Longing for European Silverware
In 2008, Manchester City was bought by Sheikh Mansour for £210 million. Before this the team hadn’t won the top-flight league since 1967/68, and had been relegated in 1998 before earning their way back into the Premier League in 2002.
Sheikh Mansour’s purchase saw him pour millions of pounds into the club, allowing for the purchase of new talent both on and off the pitch, as well as £200 million upgrade on the club’s stadium.
City’s revenue increased by 44% in the first full season after the takeover, and quadrupled between 2008-09 and 2013-14.
In exchange for this investment, Sheikh Mansour expected results. He very quickly got his wishes, with the club winning the Premier League for the first time in the 2011-12 season. Since then, the Blues have won the Premier League a further three times, the EFL Cup four times, the Community Shield three times, and the FA Cup twice.
They are yet to win a European trophy though. In fact, the only European silverware in Manchester City’s history is the 1969-70 UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup. Manchester City’s management would like this to change, especially after qualifying for the Champions League for each of the last nine seasons.
Kings of Europe
There is no doubt that Manchester City have been the kings of English football in the last decade. However, the team’s management wants City to be the Kings of Europe too. This means winning the Champions League. Manager Pep Guardiola has even gone as far as saying that they have hit a ceiling unless they can secure victory in the Champions League.
Europe at the Cost of England?
In a year where Manchester City are favourites to win the Champions League, they are trailing Liverpool in the Premier League by 14 points, sitting third in the table behind Liverpool.
Most pundits have already declared the 2019-20 season as Liverpool’s, as the Reds have a significant lead against their rivals and have won all but one of their games so far, with a single draw against Manchester United at the start of the season.
While it is undeniable that Liverpool have been the most dominant force in English football so far this season, Manchester City have also not done as well as they should have. They were beaten 2-0 by Wolves in October, and newly promoted Norwich City 3-2 in September.
Things are not as bad as some pundits had begun to predict though. While many were forecasting a Manchester City defeat, their game against Chelsea saw City win with both teams scoring, exactly as was predicted by Oddschecker.
It therefore does look like focus on winning in Europe could be having some effect on City’s performance in the Premier League.
Can City at Least Win the Champions League?
City have not made it further than the semi-finals in the Champions League. They achieved their best effort in the 2015-16 season, but were beaten 1-0 by Spanish side, Real Madrid. The Blues have most recently been knocked out in the quarter finals by both Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.
They are scheduled to take on Real Madrid in this season’s round of 16. Things don’t look too promising for the Blues, as they’ve only beaten Madrid once in their last six games, spanning as far back as 2012.
This solitary win was an International Champions Cup match. City have not beaten Real Madrid in a UEFA Champions League or Europa League game in the last decade. So, things don’t actually look great for Manchester City becoming the Kings of Europe this year.
That said, anything can happen in the Champions League. The knockout stages of the tournament means that performance on the night is all that matters, and a single missed shot, a minor slip up, or some other small hiccup can change the outcome of the game.
Therefore, although history and odds appear to be against Manchester City in the run up to the game, it’s still all to play for.
While things may not go their way this season, for Pep Guardiola and the rest of the team’s management they have no choice but to place focus on victory in the Champions League, as it is the only way that the team can secure its aim of being the most dominant team on the continent.