It’s deja vu for Manchester City once again as another Champions League campaign passes them. Looking to build on their first ever appearance in the final last year, City found themselves finishing worse off this time around, exiting at the semi-final stage at the hands of Real Madrid.
For six campaigns, City have tried under Guardiola to become the greatest Europe has to offer but that wait continues. This season was one which started with such promise and it was only a couple of weeks ago that they were still in contention for the same glorious treble that rivals Manchester United achieved in 1998-99. That dream has quickly crumbled around them and now the only piece of silverware they can lift this term is the Premier League title, which they are still leading the race for and simply must win.
Under the Spanish manager, history shows us that City don’t really suffer dips in form in the league following Champions League heartbreak which bodes well for their final push to ensure they retain their domestic crown. In 2016-17, City had 11 games after their quarter-final defeat to Monaco and collected 22 points out of the 33 available.
After crashing out to Liverpool in the last eight in 2017-18, Guardiola’s men picked up 16 points out of a possible 18 to win the league, becoming centurions in the process. And then, when they were handed another quarter-final exit in 2018-19, City picked up the maximum points available to them with 15 to retain the Premier League title, while completing the domestic treble.
This will provide some comfort to the disheartened City supporters who are now desperate for this campaign to end on a positive note. To say they were not bothered about winning the league this season would be an overstatement, but the truth is that the Premier League is viewed more as a consolation prize because the majority of the supporters are desperate to see their side become the champions of Europe - the piece of silverware they are yet to get their hands on.
As is the way of life, plans change and now the consolation prize has become the only prize and City cannot afford to let 2021-22 go to complete waste. One point separates them and challengers Liverpool who are going to push them all the way as they chase the immortalising quadruple. City cannot afford to feel sorry for themselves when they host Newcastle United on Sunday. They will need to dust themselves off and fire themselves up their remaining four fixtures to help see them over the line.
At this stage of the season their opponents will have next to nothing to play for and so it would take an even bigger collapse in this run of games than against Real Madrid for City to endure another trophyless year.
Following the latest chapter of Champions League heartache, Guardiola will not allow his side to slip-up on the home front and under his stewardship in this exact situation they have never shown any signs of suffering a European hangover before. With their last chance of achieving some form of success this term on the line, it’s hard to see the players losing their focus now.
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