Manchester City reach a glass ceiling in the Champions League on Tuesday and meet Real Madrid, the masters of the competition. The club with colossal resources since the arrival of the Emirates in 2008 has never won the competition.
Manchester City, and its trophy cabinet devoid of any Champions League, will face the league’s ogre, Real Madrid, this Tuesday, which has a whopping 13 big-eared trophies. A history that Pep Guardiola prefers to forget, so as not to relive last year’s disappointment. “If we have to play against their history, we don’t stand a chance. They are better at this level. But we want to face them, it’s an incredible test,” he admitted at a pre-match press conference.
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2 billion, 16 titles and no Europeans
The story is set against the English club. Since the takeover of the club by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, half-brother of the Emir of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and the richest man in British football, in 2008, Manchester City has also written all the most beautiful pages of its history, winning 16 titles in 14 years, where the Citizens had won just 12 in the previous 128 years. Won trophies for a gold prize, because in 14 years the Emirati have spent two billion euros, more than the Qataris at PSG. Including a billion just since the arrival of Pep Guardiola in 2016, who won only 10 of the 16 new era titles.
However, the club has only one European trophy: a Cup Winners’ Cup which was won in 1970. Since the pharaonic investments Pep Guardiola started in 2016, Manchester City are still waiting for the Champions League, which has so far fared no better than a final. , lost 0-1 to Chelsea last season. Otherwise, the Sky Blues have only had one semi-final, lost to… Real Madrid, 2-0 aggregate scores in 2015-2016, when Manuel Pellegrini was still on the Mancunian bench. Among the disappointments since the arrival of Pep Guardiola: round of 16 elimination against AS Monaco (in 2016-17), one against their current Premier League title rivals Liverpool in the quarter-finals of next season, a 4 4 with an away goal in favor of Tottenham knocking out City and the famous quarter-final won by OL in Final 8.
A semi-final that satisfies Guardiola, still in the midst of a battle with Liverpool in the league
Pep Guardiola had found the recipe leading to the Champions League title with FC Barcelona in 2009 and 2011, but never knew how to repeat the comparison far from his country. And this despite a similar workforce through his profiles at Bayern, or through a team he has re-created from scratch in his image at City. “In recent years we have participated in the Champions League, we have passed the group stage, we have reached the round of 16, the semi-finals … it is a process, the Catalan coach reassured. It is very nice to be here being the best in Europe, it represents something very beautiful and it forces us to compete, to play two exceptional matches to reach the final.” A sober speech, while Manchester City are still in the race to win the Premier League.
And that’s probably the biggest difference with their evening opponents. Carlo Ancelotti’s men, largely leaders since Barca’s defeat to Rayo (0-1), only need to beat Espanyol this weekend to become official champions. Another factor that will boost the confidence of a Real Madrid who seem mentally unsinkable this season after all his comebacks. Manchester City, for their part, must fight Liverpool back to one point, with five more days of competition to play. A Premier League where the battle rages on every season, and where it’s hard to see yourself title there without leaving feathers in European competitions.