Barring a calamitous performance in the second leg of their last sixteen tie against Dynamo Kyiv, Manchester City look certain favourites to progress into the Champions League quarter-finals.
After a near perfect performance on Wednesday in Kyiv. acquiring three vital away goals, City made a statement of intent regarding their Champions League ambitions. Manuel Pellegrini's decision to rest all but Fernando in Sunday's FA Cup tie at Chelsea seems to have paid dividend as City now have one foot in the draw for the quarter-finals.
The question now is: how far they can go in Europe's most prestigious competition?
BECOME A WRITER
Do you have what it takes? Sign up today and send over your 250 word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay3
All about the draw
Acquiring a favourable draw even at the quarter-final stage isn't out of the question. They will be hoping to avoid Barcelona and Real Madrid, who like City have one foot in the quarter-finals. Juventus/Bayern Munich is the other tie in which they will be hoping to avoid the winner from.
However, should City be drawn against any of the other sides still remaining, they will have a great opportunity to progress. Chelsea's performance in Paris against PSG demonstrated that the French Champions are vulnerable at the back and perhaps they are still lacking the quality to be a top European side and match their Spanish and German counterparts. Should the quarter-final draw fall favourably into City's hands, they'll have every chance of progressing onto the semi-finals.
Article continues below
A major factor in City's success will rest on keeping their key players fit, namely Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and David Silva. Since Kompany's return from injury, City's back four look more assured and confident, with the Belgian's leadership as vital as his footballing ability.
Aguero often has the ability to carry City on his own, and should he become unavailable, City would undoubtedly struggle for goals.
Silva's intelligence and vision can unlock any defence, and his creativity will be needed should City wish to progress to the latter stages of the competition. With the movement of Aguero and talent of the Spaniard behind him, any defence will have a tough job keeping the pair quiet.
While City undoubtedly have talent in abundance, it may not be enough given the overwhelming quality of other sides. Of concern would be both Gael Clichy and Aleksander Kolarov in City's left-back position.
Both are now the wrong side of thirty and suspect when it comes to defending. Kolarov lacks pace and is very much an attacking full-back, while Kyiv's Andriy Yarmolenko caused Clichy several problems on Wednesday night.
Were either to come up against the likes of Arjen Robben, Gareth Bale or Lionel Messi, it would make for grim viewing for City fans, and is an area which Europe's stronger sides will be able to exploit.
Yaya Toure is also a cause for alarm, given his unwillingness to press teams high up the field. Fernando and Fernandinho both pressed Kiev high up the field, causing numerous errors which subsequently created chances for City.
While Toure scored a terrific third for City and was effective on the ball, against the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, he will not be given as much time in possession, and will need to raise his levels of energy against such teams.
However, one major roadblock presents itself in the form of Barcelona. The reigning champions look unstoppable at the moment, with Neymar, Luis Suarez and Messi overhauling every opposition they face. It is hard to look beyond Luis Enrique's side who have gone unbeaten in 33 games, and every side progressing into the quarter-finals will be hoping to avoid the Catalan club.
Manchester City will be hoping to avoid Barcelona at every turn, yet should the club wish to execute its long-term ambition of becoming champions of Europe, they will need to beat the best the competition has to offer.
Drawing any other team than Barcelona may give Pellegrini's side hope, yet if they are to win the Champions League they will probably face them at some point for a third consecutive year.
City's best opportunity will be meeting Barcelona in final. They'll stand a greater chance in a one-off game rather than over two legs. However, there are several other sides which also pose a great threat to City.
Should they receive a favourable quarter-final draw, and if they can keep the spine of their team fit and play the right players in a balanced formation, it would not be too ridiculous to suggest they can become champions of Europe.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms