Manchester City have not exactly enjoyed a trouble-free campaign under Pep Guardiola this season. The Citizens are trailing Premier League leaders Chelsea by eight points in the table, despite being second in the table.
Part of Guardiola’s main tasks when being appointed as City boss was to make the Citizens into a force at home and in Europe.
The Citizens finished second in their Champions League group, behind Spanish champions Barcelona.
On Tuesday night City’s European credentials will be put to the test, as French league leaders Monaco head to the Etihad Stadium for the first leg of an intriguing last-16 tie.
Monaco an exciting team under Leonardo Jardim
The visitors have become a very exciting team under Portuguese boss Leonardo Jardim. They currently sit top of Ligue One above PSG and Nice in the race for the French title.
One aspect that has been particularly impressive in Ligue One this season been their potency in front of goal. Jardim’s side have scored an incredible 76 goals this season, scoring 26 more goals than PSG who have scored the second highest tally of goals in Ligue One.
In the likes of Bernardo Silva, Thomas Lemar and Kevin Mbappe the visitors have three of the most exciting young attacking players in the European game.
Monaco have already proven their quality against English opposition this season, defeating Tottenham 2-1 twice in the group stage of Europe’s elite competition. The visitors will certainly fancy their chances of scoring an away goal against a City defence that has looked very vulnerable at times this season.
City’s form has improved of late
Manchester City’s form has been inconsistent this season. However, in recent weeks the team have gained a bit more consistency. City are unbeaten in eight games in all competitions. A draw last time out against Huddersfield saw a four-game winning run come to an end.
City have even managed to keep clean sheets in four of their last five games, with Argentinian goalkeeper Willy Caballero starting ahead of the much-maligned Claudio Bravo. City’s new-found solidity will be severely tested by a very dynamic Monaco team, who have proven just how deadly they can be in front of goal so far this season.
The Citizens are pretty dynamic themselves going forward with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero all providing City with a major attacking threat. The home side will no doubt miss injured Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus.
However, they should have more than enough quality in attack to cause the visitors defence lots of problems in this game and tie.
City favourites to win the match
The Citizens are favourites to win this game at odds of 3/5 and also the favourites to come out on top in the tie over the two legs. However, Monaco are dark horses and it certainly was not the easiest draw that the Citizens could have been given.
Anybody who believes that Monaco will be easy opponents only have to ask Tottenham if the French league leaders are an easy team to play against. This game will certainly be a test of City’s mental and physical strength.
The men from Manchester have looked anything but potential European champions this season. The only real bright spot of City’s campaign was a 3-1 home win over Spanish giants Barcelona. In the light of the Blaugrana’s 4-0 defeat at PSG, the result does not look that impressive.
Pep Guardiola is a man that knows how to win the European Cup, having won it with Barcelona as a player and twice as boss of the Spanish giants. It would be a stretch to claim that the Citizens are considered by many as potential candidates to win the trophy this season.
However, the players will be hoping to equal last season’s performance and make it to the semi-finals. First, though, they have to get past their very dangerous French opponents, which is by no means a sure thing.
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