It's fair to say that Manchester City were unlucky in last season's Champions League.
I'm not defending their performances, and certainly not saying they deserved to go through, but the draw that placed them in the same group as Dutch champions Ajax, then-Spanish champions Real Madrid and eventual competition runners-up Borussia Dortmund, was far from favourable.
Roberto Mancini's side looked uncharacteristically out of depth when pitted against their opponents in the group stages, culminating in them being knocked out without a win to their name, and suffering the first of many disappointments in what would transpire to be a difficult season.
Having comfortably secured entry into the pantheon of Europe's top tournament, courtesy of their second-placed finish in the Premier League, City will not just be hoping to improve upon their Champions League endeavours thus far, they will be expected to.
Alright, few will argue that Roberto Mancini was sacked because of City's early exit last year, and it's logical to believe that had they been successful on the domestic front, the Italian would still be in the hot-seat.
However, having been dumped out at the first hurdle on the previous two occasions, Manuel Pellegrini will be under no illusions that although his primary concern will be trumping United to the English title, qualification from the group will be something the Citizen bosses will be steering towards.
Unfortunately for the Etihad faithful, the competition this year is set to be the most fiercely fought yet, with a number of Europe's biggest teams throwing money in a bid for results, and the old stalwarts of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich looking ever-threatening.
City fans can take heart from the purchases made in the pre-season, however. In Pellegrini they have a manager who is experienced in the fast-flowing, attack-minded football style the Champions League usually harbours, and the Chilean has experience from his exploits with Villarreal, Madrid and Malaga in reaching the latter rounds.
Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero offer a powerful spine to the team, and when little Spaniard David Silva is on form, they present a flair that few teams can efficiently combat. Throw into the mix new arrivals Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas and Stevan Jovetic and you can begin to see the shape of a squad not only brimming with quality, but bearing a hefty amount of top level experience; the kind of experience that is usually needed in the Champions League.
There are question marks to be raised over the Citizen's defensive soundness, however, particularly when pitted against sides who boast a wealth of attacking talent.
One look at the defensive records of last season's finalists, Bayern Munich (conceded only ten) and Dortmund (conceded only 14), highlights the benefits of having an organised back-line.
On their day, City have a squad that should be looking to compete with any team they come up against, providing that their key players deliver.
It's all too easy to become carried away with expectation, and even easier to tout City as challengers because of their expenditure and personnel, but if Pellegrini can adapt his side to compliment the natural flair they have within their squad, as well as create an emphasis on becoming a sturdy defensive unit, then City may just be able to crack the European nut that to them has so far remained resilient.
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