Manchester City, despite winning the Premier League title in 2011/12 and being regarded as one of the top-four clubs on a regular basis, have struggled thus far to make their mark on the greatest club stage of all - the Champions League.

This season, however, could mark a change in how they are viewed by Europe's elite. Tuesday night's 3-2 victory in Munich against current Champions League holders Bayern could well prove a watershed for the club but will it mean they will now be able to challenge for the coveted title of Champions of Europe on a regular basis?

City ended joint top of their group with the current European Champions and were only beaten to top spot on goal difference, an achievement they should be rightly proud of.

During previous campaigns, City have been woefully short in Europe's premier club competition and have been exposed at home and away for lacking the experience and tactics to combat Europe's elite clubs.

This season, with the exception of the home defeat to Bayern, City have performed well and shown the class that we all know they possess and have shown in the Premier League time after time.

They have built the Etihad Stadium into an almost formidable home and have remained unbeaten away from home in the group stages, culminating in that superb victory in Munich.

Some may say that City, aside from Munich, had an easy group in which they were expected to progress from but European competitions these days do not allow teams to automatically assume they can be victorious.

CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen are hardly major forces in Europe but, to City, beating opposition in the Champions League is a major hurdle for them to overcome.

In their previous two Champions League adventures, City have had very tough draws but they have also lacked the belief and the tactics to beat the top sides. This year looks to be different.

City have shown under Manuel Pellegrini that they can adapt to European football. It has taken time but it looks as though the Chilean has finally brought City out of the European doldrums and given them confidence to compete at this level.

Pellegrini himself has had a certain amount of success at this level with his previous clubs and knows what it takes to be victorious. He knows City need to keep hold of the ball better and have patience in games. Europe is very different compared to the hectic, fast-paced football we see in the Premier League.

Were the previous managers and players to blame for their inept displays in the Champions League or were City simply not ready to make the next step?

The next step for City is to be able to constantly challenge Europe's elite at this level season after season. It took time for other English clubs to establish themselves at this level but we now expect the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United to always be in the latter stages of the competition.

They will also need to find a balance between the demands that competing for the Premier League and the Champions League will give them. They will not want to find that their domestic form suffers because of any European adventure or has there been a shift in strategy and do they now view the Champions League as more of a priority than the Premier League after having already won the latter?

Can City, with a decent draw in the last 16, challenge for the Champions League
this season or is it still a long-term plan in the making?  

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Topics:
#Manchester City
#UEFA Champions League
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