Dubai: Annual League Cup win – it’s over. Escape with another Premier League title – Rank. Wait until noisy neighbors spoil the title party with breaking the law – check. Watch Paris Saint-Germain in the Union to book first place ever in the UEFA Champions League Final … not yet.
Manchester City has had an eventful week or so having been back in action in their best form after the failure of the European League.
They beat Tottenham to win the League Cup for the fourth time at Wembley Stadium last weekend, returned to humble Paris Saint-Germain on their home turf on Wednesday, knocking out Crystal Palace in front of everyone except for the Premier League title on Saturday – then they sat and marveled as their neighbors caused Previously greats at Manchester United embarrass themselves even more and have descended to a new low amid theft in their home game against Liverpool and the ongoing protests against their owners – The Glazers.
While thugs grabbed the headlines on Sunday at Old Trafford, City are quietly starting their career as they prepare for the biggest match in their continental history. Pep Guardiola’s men go to the second leg of the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain and lead 2-1 from their efforts in the French capital last week and now look like professional players to reach their first-ever final at the Club Football Summit in Istanbul. Later this month (waiting for Chelsea or Real Madrid, but that’s another problem).
Lately, many have been questioning a bottle of City to get the job done, given that they’ve been throttled in the Champions League on several occasions. But this animal that Guardiola made five years ago in Manchester is a different beast. They got shaken in their wake in Paris last week as Paris Saint-Germain took the match to them and they weren’t allowed the usual movement of passing. But instead of breaking down, they found another way. The strength and depth on City’s bench are second to none, and the introduction of the unknown champ – Olexander Zinchenko – proved to be a major hit as he left Paris Saint-Germain chasing the shadows in one of the best 45 minutes produced by an English team in Europe.
However, the mission is far from over, and any early slips will be punished by the French side who can summon Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Angel Di Maria to do the job.
Yet … this City team appears to be outperforming its peers in past years – including the record-breaking treble winners, and the top winners of Premier League points and goalscoring machines in the past. There is a wonderful and calculated mindset to go along with silk. Clinical cruelty coupled with some world-class football.
With two trophies counted, now is the time for Guardiola’s boy to become a man and step up and be proud of his place as the Kings of Europe among the group they once envied when they were looking down from below. There may not be the glamor on Tuesday evening, but there will surely be the grit and determination they once lacked.