June 22, 2024
Manchester City remains on course to win unprecedented quadruple

Manchester City remains on course to win unprecedented quadruple

Pep Guardiola’s team brushed aside Borussia Monchengladbach 2-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday to complete a comfortable 4-0 aggregate victory over the German side and keep its dreams of an unprecedented quadruple alive.

City has now lost just once in its previous 32 games in all competitions — the defeat coming at the hands of Manchester United — and remains in contention for all four competitions it entered at the start of the season.

In addition to the quarterfinals of the Champions League, City will compete with Tottenham in the League Cup final in April, will face Everton in the last eight of the FA Cup, and is within touching distance of wrapping up the Premier League title.

Guardiola was quick to temper expectations after the match on Tuesday, but insists winning the Champions League, a trophy that has so far alluded him during his glittering spell at Manchester City, remains a priority.

“Since the first year I arrived they told me that you have to win the Champions League,” said Guardiola, who has failed to steer his side past the quarterfinal stage in all three of his seasons at the club.

“It is always on our shoulders but I’m not concerned about that.

“If you deserve it in football, you go through. I’m not thinking about getting to the semifinals. I’m thinking about playing a good first leg [in the quarterfinals] and then a good second leg.”

Manchester City celebrate after scoring against Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday.

Stats don’t lie

If Guardiola is downplaying his side’s chances of clinching the quadruple this season, you feel it might be a different story within the dressing room.

Speaking ahead of the tie against Monchengladbach, young defender Oleksandr Zinchenko gave an interesting insight into the mindset of the players when he said he believed his side could win all the remaining competitions.

Typically, Guardiola was quick to pour cold water on Zinchenko’s claims, saying: “I am older than Mr. Zinchenko, I have more experience and I do not agree with him.”

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But whether he admits it publicly or not, you get the sense that Guardiola must believe it’s possible. After all, he has form.

During his managerial career, the 50-year-old turned Barcelona into a world-beating side and transformed Bayern Munich into a domestic powerhouse. His time at Barca in particular will never be forgotten.

Guardiola created one of the best teams ever assembled with the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta changing the way football was played in Europe.

In his first year in charge during the 2008/2009 season, Barcelona won six trophies, including the Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey.

Despite not quite having the same caliber of players, his current Manchester City squad bears distinct similarities to those great sides and the statistics simply speak for themselves.

City has not conceded a goal in the Champions League since the opening group match — that’s more than 11 hours of football — and has won 24 of its last 25 matches.

It’s a team that smothers games, dominates possession and limits its opponents to only a handful of chances.

It’s not as though Guardiola needs to worry about keeping players fresh, either. City’s squad is packed full of world-class talent allowing the manager to chop and change his starting lineup with ease.

On many occasions this season, the majority of players on City’s substitutes bench could make the starting lineup of almost every top team in Europe.

City didn’t even miss star playmaker Kevin de Bruyne during the Belgian’s injury layoff earlier this year, with players such as Phil Foden and Ilkay Gundogan providing the team with goals and an abundance of chances.

Strong defense

But what’s different about this season is City’s defense. Guardiola has seemingly settled on a solid partnership of John Stones and Ruben Dias at the back and the team has reaped the rewards.

“You can’t deny that Ruben and John made an incredible step forward for the team this season,” Guardiola said.

“We defend with the ball. That is the most important thing — that when the opponent arrives we are solid enough.”

Winning the Premier League early will only help City’s bid for a quadruple, allowing the manager to rotate his squad more freely.

City is currently 14 points clear of second-placed Manchester United and can wrap up the title as early as May 8 if it doesn’t drop any points.

“We are close but still we have games to play. Sometimes when you win earlier it’s not good for other competitions,” said Guardiola, per BBC Sport.

“When you have to fight to win one title, you have to fight to win the other ones. It’s important not to think too far and just focus on the next one.”

As much as Guardiola is keen to play down the likelihood of such a remarkable achievement, you’d be a brave person to bet against them on current form.

Next up for City is a potentially tricky tie against Everton in the FA Cup on Saturday. Win that and it will be yet another step closer to the quadruple.