Dubai: Annual League Cup triumph – over. Run away with another Premier League title – sorted. Wait for loud neighbors to spoil a game of title by breaking the law – check it out. See you at Paris St-Germain at the Etihad to secure a first place in the UEFA Champions League final … not quite yet.
Manchester City have had a pretty eventful week after recovering to their best after the European Super League mess.
They outclassed Tottenham to clinch their fourth League Cup trophy trotting at Wembley last weekend, returned to humble PSG on their home turf on Wednesday, sacked Crystal Palace to almost seal the EPL title on Saturday – then sat down and marveled. as their once-tall neighbors Manchester United embarrassed themselves even more and sank to a new low amid a heist in their home game against Liverpool and the ongoing protests against their owners – the Glazers.
As the headlines were claimed by the thugs on Sunday at Old Trafford, City quietly went about their business affairs as they prepared for the biggest game in continental history. Pep Guardiola’s men start their Champions League second leg against PSG with an essential 2-1 lead thanks to their efforts in the French capital last week and now look like a shoo-in to reach their very first ever final of the summit of club football in Istanbul. later this month (Chelsea or Real Madrid are waiting, but that’s another problem).
Lately, many have been questioning City’s bottle to get the job done, given they have choked on the Champions League on several occasions. But this five-year-old animal that Guardiola has raised in Manchester is a different beast. They were cradled on their heels in Paris last week as PSG took the game away from them and didn’t allow them to have their usual passing and flowing movement. But rather than collapse, they found another way. The strength and depth on the City bench is unmatched and the introduction of an unsung hero – Oleksandr Zinchenko – proved to be the masterstroke as PSG were left to chase shadows in one of the 45 best minutes ever produced by an English team in Europe.
However, the job is not yet finished and any anticipated slippage will be sanctioned by a French side who can call on Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Angel Di Maria to do the trick.
Yet … this city team appears to be a class above its counterparts from years past – including triple record winners, highest EPL point winners and goal machines of the past. There is a cool, calculated mentality to go with the silky. Clinical cruelty alongside world-class football.
With two of the trophies tallied, now is the time for Guardiola’s boy to become men and take the place of European kings in a group they once envied as they watched from below. There may not be any glamor Tuesday night, but there will certainly be the courage and determination that once lacked.