Manchester City will look to repeat its EPL success in Europe this season.
If there is one man who knows what it’s like to be Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, then it’s Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho. Thanks to Roman Abramovich’s millions, Mourinho was able to collate a galaxy of stars in west London, delivering Chelsea fans a pair of Premier League titles and the FA Cup. With the even deeper pockets of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan behind him, Mancini already has an FA Cup and EPL title to his name, but even more is expected of his squad in the UEFA Champions League.
The battle lines were drawn at the start of the week when it was revealed City had fended off interest from Real who were intent on bringing home midfield maestro David Silva. Keeping the Spanish star will no doubt aid the sky blues throughout their Champions League campaign, but progressing beyond the group stage is certainly no fait accompli.
Mancini’s squad failed to reach the second phase last season, and the task is even harder this time around, with Borussia Dortmund and Ajax Amsterdam, champions of Germany and Holland respectively, also lurking in Group D. They’ve also drawn both away matches in the Premier League so far this season at Stoke and Liverpool, and travelling to Madrid is a whole new ball game. In the 2011-12 Champions League, City recorded just one win and two losses away from the City of Manchester Stadium, and that victory came against Villareal, which lost every single match in the group stage.
Real remains the most expensive team in the world, with its talisman Cristiano Ronaldo still strutting around the Bernabeu, but all the money in the world couldn’t bring Mourinho success in last year’s Champions League, when his team of stars crashed in a penalty shootout in the semi-final against Bayern Munich. To make matters worse, his old club Chelsea came up trumps in another spot-kick battle in the final against the Germans. It must be remembered, though, that Real went through the group stage unbeaten, scoring 13 goals in three home games and conceding just two, suggesting the over 3.5 goals option could present some value.
Real is off to its worst start in La Liga in a decade, though, picking up just four points from their first four matches. The last time Los Blancos got off to a worse start – the 2001/02 season – happens to be the last time they were crowned European champions.
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