Despite all of their various defensive struggles, injury issues and spells of inconsistency during their term, City have made history in an impressive achievement.
After their nervy 4-2 victory over Bundesliga side Borussia Mönchengladbach last night, all those connected with Manchester City will breathe a collective sigh of relief.
Despite questions being asked as to whether or not they can mount a successful title challenge, considering they’ve been inconsistent in recent months, their impressive achievement is sure to send a message out to the rest of Europe’s elite.
Signal of intent
Manchester City, are now in that elite list.
When the groups were drawn at the end of August, eyebrows were unsurprisingly raised at the level of quality within. Juventus, last year’s runners-up, as well as back-to-back Europa League winners Sevilla, and an ever-improving Gladbach side, just highlighted the fact it was definitely not going to be easy for the sky Blues as they embarked on their Champions League mission once more.
Despite their opening matchday defeat at the hands of Massimiliano Allegri’s men at the Ethiad, it was anything but underwhelming from City’s point of view.
Time for perspective
Snatching late winners in games you aren’t particularly dominating, is something quite telling. It’s, as critics so often say, the mark of champions.
Their late turnaround at Eastlands yesterday was overshadowed by the shortcomings of their closest rivals, Manchester United. They had a significantly easier group to contend with, in terms of quality. Yet, they’ve dropped down to the Europa League themselves with little more than a whimper as the clear divide between Premier League and Champions League quality has been on-show once more for all to see. VfL Wolfsburg, CSKA Moscow and PSV Eindhoven all managed to tactically frustrate Louis van Gaal‘s rigid United system, and despite their defensive statistics seeming impressive, they’ve flattered to deceive.
You just have to rewind back DAYS following their embarrassing 2-0 defeat away at Stoke, but yesterday’s display was the perfect way in which to bounce back from such a result. Embarrassing, not because Stoke aren’t particularly good. More, the manner of the loss itself.
Sigh of relief
Fan videos after last night’s victory have already been shared via social media sites, which just reiterates how grateful and joyous City are to have qualified for the Last 16 in such an impressive way infront of their home supporters.
Juventus, who were previously tipped to win the group itself, lost 1-0 to Sevilla away – meaning City’s victory has propelled them above the Italian giants as group winners, although neither club had to worry about qualification as both had already sealed their place prior to the last matchday of the campaign.
So, the sky Blues will avoid the likes of drawing Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Atlético in the knockouts when the various ties are confirmed on Monday morning.
City, have made history. For the first time, they’ll have the envious luxury of not going head-to-head with the European powerhouses who’ve swatted them like flies out of the competition in previous years. There are still plenty of strong teams like Paris-Saint Germain, Benfica and PSV who will undoubtedly still pose viable threats of their own – but none of the group runners-up from this year’s tournament are as strong as the winners.