In the last decade, Manchester City Football Club has become a powerhouse in English and European football. Their recent rise up the footballing tree has seen the Citizens win the Premier League title in four of their last five seasons. The club’s fortunes were transformed in 2008 when Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan took control of the club.
The Citizens spent big on players and head coaches and, within four years, had claimed their first English league title of the Premier League era. However, the club’s new owners were far more ambitious than just dominating English football. For those connected with Sheikh Mansour, their holy grail was the Champions League.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the Citizens are still yet to achieve their aim of European domination. In recent years City has gone mightily close to winning the Champions League, though, even if they have only made the final of the competition once.
Tuchel the City boogey boss in 2021
When it comes to boogey teams, there are always teams and head coaches that specific teams hate to face. Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel was one of those bosses in 2021. From January, when he first arrived at the south west London club, the former Dortmund boss faced City on three occasions before the season finished, claiming victories in all games, including in the Premier League, FA Cup and the Champions League.
Final heartbreak against Chelsea 2021
The closest that Manchester City has ever come to lifting the Champions League trophy was back in season 2021/22. Pep Guardiola’s team reached the final and faced fellow English team, Chelsea, at the Estadio do Dragao. The Citizens started the final as big favourites, but nemesis Tuchel got his tactics spot on, nullifying City and getting the best out of his own team.
The only goal of the game arrived on 42 minutes. Mason Mount’s through ball found Kai Havertz, who advanced on City goalkeeper Ederson. The Brazilian rushed out and made contact with the ball, but it wasn’t enough as the ball broke kindly for Havertz to slot home into an empty net. City pushed for an equaliser but couldn’t find a way past a resolute Blues backline. The game ended in heartbreak for City, and Chelsea returned home as European champions for the second time in their history.
A permanent fixture in the latter stages in the last decade
Manchester City have featured in the knockout stages of the Champions League in the last nine seasons. In fact, Guardiola’s team has made it to at least the quarter-finals of the Champions League in the last five seasons. Aside from their final appearance, City has also made it to the semi-finals of the competition on two occasions.
The Citizens first made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2016, when they suffered a 1-0 aggregate defeat against Real Madrid in the last four. The first leg at the Etihad Stadium finished goalless before Real Madrid recorded a 1-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu in the second leg courtesy of an own goal from City’s Brazilian central midfielder Fernando. Los Blancos went on to win the final against city-rivals Atletico Madrid on penalty kicks.
Unfortunately for City, last season (2021/22) was a case of history repeating itself, as once against Real Madrid defeated the Citizens in the semi-finals of the competition. However, the tie was in stark contrast to the tight and low-scoring contest in their previous semi-final meeting.
The Spanish giants recorded a 6-5 extra-time victory at the Bernabeu in an extraordinary encounter. The Citizens recorded a 4-3 win over Carlo Ancelotti’s team in the first leg at the Etihad Stadium. However, in truth, Guardiola’s team had chances to win by a bigger margin on the night.
When Riyad Mahrez scored in the 75th minute of the second leg in the Spanish capital to make it 5-3 on aggregate, it looked like the tie was over. Guardiola’s team looked to be comfortably heading into the final until the game’s last minute. Brazilian substitute Rodrygo clawed a goal back for City before in injury-time, striking again to level the scores and send the tie into extra-time.
Real Madrid found the winner in extra-time, as French international forward Karim Benzema scored from the penalty spot, just as he had done in the first leg in Manchester. Once again, Real Madrid went on to win the Champions League, beating Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool 1-0 in the final.
One European trophy won
Manchester City’s only European trophy win to date is when the Citizens won the now-defunct Cup Winners’ Cup in 1970. The Citizens recorded a 2-1 win over Polish team Gornik Zabrze in the final held in Vienna.
City scored twice in the first half through goals from Neil Young and club legend Franny Lee. City’s opponents got a goal back in the 68th minute through defender Stanislaw Oslizlo. However, the Citizens held on to claim their only European trophy thus far.
Manchester City often favourites to win the Champions League
As has been the case for many recent seasons, Manchester City will start the 2022/23 Champions League campaign as favourites to lift the famous trophy at the end of the season. The Citizens have improved their odds of finishing the season as European champions by bringing in Norwegian goal machine Erling Haaland from Dortmund.
The youngster has already made a prolific start to his City career and is the favourite to win the Champions League golden boot this season and the Premier League equivalent. The forward could well be the final piece of the puzzle for Guardiola’s team in their quest for European glory.
It would be a massive surprise if City were not there or thereabouts when the final rolls around on June 10th in Istanbul. Everybody connected with the club will be determined to put the record straight about the Champions League. This season, the Citizens could finally win the trophy they have craved for over a decade.