The second of three meetings in 12 days between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur takes place this week, for the second leg of their Champions League Quarter-Final tie.
Spurs carry a one goal advantage (procured at their new home in north London last week) to the Etihad Stadium, meaning City finding their quadruple chances in jeopardy.
Aside from the premier European competition, Pep Guardiola’s incumbent Premier League champions already have the League Cup in the bag, have reached the final of the FA Cup, and are alternating with Liverpool at the top of the table in the final sprint of the domestic season.
Sergio Agüero flunking an early spot-kick that would have given the visitors to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium a vital advantage certainly hurt, but not as much as Spurs star Son Heung-min’s strike, meaning City have it all to do in Eastlands. However, form is well on their side; not only have they lost just one of their last 16 games (and won the remaining), they also haven’t failed to score at home in any competition since last May, in a surprise 0-0 draw with Huddersfield Town.
In the Champions League, City have reached the Semi-Finals only once before - under Guardiola’s predecessor Manuel Pellegrini in 2016, losing by a single goal to (eventual champions) Real Madrid.
However, Guardiola has serious pedigree in making the last four. After becoming Barcelona manager in 2008, the Blaugrana reached the semi-finals, at least, in each of his four seasons at the helm, winning the competition twice (both times against Manchester United).
A year’s sabbatical in 2012 followed and then at Bayern Munich, following on from their treble-winning success under Jupp Heynkes in 2013, Guardiola reached three consecutive semi-finals, losing to that Spanish triumvirate of Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid.
Guardiola has won 26 of his 53 Champions League knockout matches, just one behind the all-time record held jointly by Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, and Carlo Ancelotti, who all sit on 27 wins. A good win for City whilst blunting a Spurs attack already coping with the absence of talisman Harry Kane, would firstly match that achievement and also allow the opportunity Guardiola to try and surpass that tally this season, with either Ajax or Juventus waiting in the next round.
Manchester City have won 23 of their 25 home matches in all competitions this season, with the only two blots on their copybooks coming at the hands of Olympique Lyonnais and Crystal Palace. Concerningly, they have lost two of their last three home UCL knockout games, with losses to Basel and Liverpool last year.
If Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs stun Man City on their own turf, this would be the first time Spurs have won four Champions League games in a row, following back-to-back wins over Borussia Dortmund and that first leg last week.