Can anyone stop Man City in quadruple bid?
Manchester City’s bid for an unprecedented quadruple remains on track after they secured their place in the Champions League semi-finals with victory over Borussia Dortmund.
Here, we look at what they could accomplish and if they could come unstuck.
Is winning four trophies really realistic?
With a maximum of 12 games to go there is still an awful lot for City to do to deliver a quadruple. But Wednesday’s win in Dortmund cleared a major hurdle as this is the first time they have advanced beyond the quarter-final stage of the Champions League under Pep Guardiola. Wrapping up the Premier League title appears a formality at this stage, even after last week’s surprise home defeat to Leeds, so the focus for fans is on the cup fixtures which will come thick and fast in the coming weeks.
Who else stands in their way?
By the end of the month, City could find themselves on the verge of a historic achievement or picking up the pieces of their dreams. Four of their next six fixtures come in the cups – starting with Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against a Chelsea side revitalised under Thomas Tuchel. A week later they will take on Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham in the Carabao Cup final before heading to the French capital to face Paris St Germain in the first leg of their semi-final three days later.
Can anyone really stop them?
City have been like a juggernaut since the turn of the year, with 28 wins from their last 30 matches. However, as the two defeats to Manchester United and Leeds have shown, there is always the potential for a slip. They face a maximum of 12 more games this season, but six of those would be in cup competitions where there is no margin for error.
So what could go wrong?
Guardiola has tried to shut down talk of the quadruple but if they overcome both Chelsea and Tottenham, it may become hard to ignore. Guardiola has managed his squad well so far, making a handful of changes to keep his players fresh, usually with no obvious loss of momentum. But when he went as far as seven changes for the visit of Leeds it came at a price – a warning for the rest of the season.
Are there no weaknesses?
It is difficult for any opponent to pinpoint a weakness. If there is one it is perhaps a failure to score the goals their domination often warrants. A plan could therefore be to absorb pressure and look to catch City cold with a sucker punch, but that is not so easy in practice. It may take other factors, such as injuries, suspensions or fixture congestion, to unsettle them.
Is this finally the year for them in the Champions League?
Europe has been their undoing in recent years and Guardiola’s tactics have fallen short. There is no doubt they are good enough to succeed on that stage but they have a monkey on their back they must remove. Reaching the semi-final was a big step, but it gets no easier from here.
How do they prioritise the competitions?
Guardiola always says winning the Premier League is his number one objective but, given that competition looks all but wrapped up, recent selections show his focus is turning elsewhere. Of all the challenges that remain, the tight turnaround between the Carabao Cup final and the away leg of the Champions League semi-final in Paris looks a major one. It will be fascinating to see how Guardiola handles it.
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