This week marks the biggest week in Manchester City’s recent history. Having claimed two Premier League titles, two League Cups, and one FA Cup, the Citizens have finally managed to get to grips with the Champions League.
The fact that it took Chelsea many years, many tears, and many managers to achieve that goal, suggests that City’s battle with the big boys has only just begun.
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City played out a 0-0 draw with the La Liga giants at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night in the semi-final first leg, giving them a good chance of booking their place in the Champions League final.
Man City goalkeeper Joe Hart admitted: “The dream was to go this far straight away, but the reality is you have to learn along the way.”
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“We made a lot of mistakes in the first few years but we’ve improved and grown as a team and for us to be in the Champions League semi-final now is probably just about where we should be given the investment and backing we’ve had, though the truth is that it’s not that easy sometimes.”
“We’re pretty proud we’ve got to the semis but it’s certainly not the end and we don’t want it to be the end.”
Indeed, their league form has suffered as they realized the enormity of the task, as did Chelsea’s when finally winning the competition in 2012.
Having won their first five Premier League games this season without conceding, Manuel Pellegrini had a reality check in the first European match as City lost 2-1 at home to last season’s beaten finalists Juventus, leading to back-to-back Premier League defeats.
Chelsea eventually finished sixth in the league when they won the Champions League in 2012, which was the same year that the Citizens won their first Premier League of the Mansour reign.
Four years later, and with another League Cup under his belt this season, Pellegrini would happily swap a meagre fourth place finish for Champions League glory.
Having defeated Paris Saint-Germain in the battle of the big spenders at the quarter-final stage, and with Chelsea themselves sure to improve next year on a poor season at Stamford Bridge, this is a fantastic opportunity for Pellegrini to take the Mansour master-plan to the next level.
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