Manchester City sealed top spot in Group D of the Champions League with a 4-2 defeat of German side Borussia Monchengladbach at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night.
Raheem Sterling scored a brace, while David Silva and Wilfried Bony also got on the scoresheet.
The game was a typical display of the good and the bad of City, maybe not the ugly though, because Martin Demichelis was on the bench.
Strong attacking options
The seemingly bottomless pit of money available to Manchester City has been spent on assembling a squad with strong attacking options. Even without star striker Sergio Aguero the Citizens managed to score four goals against a competent Bundesliga side.
Last summer City sent out a signal of intent to the rest of the Premier League that they meant business this season by spending over a £100million on attacking midfielders Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling in the summer.
With David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Jesus Navas, Samir Nasri and Wilfried Bony already at the club it meant that the Citizens had more quality attacking players than they knew what to do with.
The likes of De Bruyne and Sterling will cause any defence problems, then throw in Silva and Aguero, when fit and City have an attack to rival most clubs in the competition on their day.
Despite the other attacking options available to Pellegrini, Aguero’s return to full fitness will be vital to City’s success this season. The diminutive Argentinian striker has struggled to stay injury-free this season.
Any team would miss a player of Aguero’s quality. He is quite simply a cut-above the capable if not world-class Wilfried Bony.
Suspect in defence
For all their attacking options Pellegrini’s side have looked suspect in defence for the last couple of seasons. Captain and centre-back Vincent Kompany was once the bedrock of the City defence, but like Aguero is now injury-prone.
When City was at their best early in the season Kompany seemed to be back to his best and City was keeping clean sheets again. However his absence in recent games has exposed a gaping hole in the City backline.
Last season the City disease of poor defending seemed to infect Kompany, as he has stated in the past. When on form he is one of the best defenders in the English top-flight though. Many would even argue that he is one of the best centre-backs in world football.
At the moment I am not sure. For me Kompany can be slightly Jekyll and Hyde in his performance. Sometimes Kompany can look Franz Beckenbauer at times, but other times he looks more like his cousin Captain Incompetent.
The likes of Martin Demichelis and Eliaquim Mangala have major question marks next to their name, despite one previously playing for Bayern Munich and the other costing a fortune. Neither have convinced for City, especially when Kompany is missing.
Summer signing Argentinian Nicolas Otamendi looks like he could be a good signing, but his arrival in the summer suggests that Pellegrini has no faith in French international Mangala.
Good teams can get at City’s defence and it has cost them in recent seasons at both home and abroad. There are plenty of top teams with fantastic attacks left in the Champions League that will cause the Citizens problems.
How far can City go this season?
No doubt City has quality players and will be a dangerous opponent to whoever they meet in the last 16 of the competition. The fact that the Citizens have topped their group will mean that they will avoid Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the next stage.
City has never made it past the last 16 stage of the competition, because they have met Bayern or Barcelona in the first knockout stage and were eliminated.
The Citizens are currently odds of 14/1 to win the competition this season. They certainly have to be taken more seriously with the potent attacking options available to Pellegrini.
If the likes of Kompany and Aguero can stay injury-free then City can give anybody in the competition a game, but unfortunately for the men from Manchester their suspect defence is likely to be exposed by the better teams in the competition.
The Citizens may have spent a lot of money in the summer, but like most teams in Europe they could fall short if they come up against the class of Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich.
Can Manchester City threaten the Champions League big guns?
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