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After many tries and misses Man City finally found a formula to be successful in the Champions League and the Citizens enter only their second-ever Champions League final in history as the big favourites to finally lift this elusive trophy. So far 22 different clubs have won the Champions League. Can City become the 23rd? The answer to that question will be revealed on Saturday in Istanbul. Below, we cast a detailed look at Man City’s turbulent Champions League history.
Our boys in blue depart for Istanbul 💙 pic.twitter.com/b0XebFwwym
— Manchester City (@ManCity) June 8, 2023
The first-ever taste of the Champions League for Man City
Man City’s debut in the competition was back in the 1968/69 season when the tournament was still called the European Cup and only the actual champions of their respective countries were playing in it. City’s first taste of the tournament was bitter as they were eliminated in the first round by the Turkish giants Fenerbahce. The trip to Istanbul back in 68 was a disaster. Could City rewrite history now when they travel again to the Turkish capital?
The return to the limelight after decades in the shadows
Many decades followed with Man City nowhere near the top of the English football pyramid. However, 3 years after the famous takeover from the UAE billionaires City returned to the Champions League proper. This was in the 2011/12 season when the Citizens never made it out of their group that contained the much more experienced teams of Bayern Munich, Napoli and Villarreal.
The following season City suffered the same fate and were eliminated in the group stage. Then in the 2013/14 season came the first taste of Champions League knockout football. City failed their first test as they were eliminated in the round of 16 by Barcelona. Messi scored in both legs. The following year history repeated itself and again Barcelona knocked out City in the round of 16.
The first proper breakthrough for City after 4 bitter years was in the 2015/16 season. Led by Manuel Pellegrini the Citizens finally broke the mould and thanks to Aguero’s goals reached their first-ever Champions League semifinal. There they lost to the future champions Real Madrid.
The Guardiola-era. Is it finally time for City to win the biggest trophy of them all?
At the start of the 2016/17 season, Man City appointed Pep Guardiola as their new manager and this began the most successful period in the club’s history. Led by Guardiola and his revolutionary tactics City started to win trophy after trophy on the domestic stage.
However, the elusive Champions League success remained unreachable for a long while. Guardiola’s first year in charge saw City again knocked out in the round of 16 after the underdogs Monaco stunned them. Despite some adjustments and heavy investment, the next 3 years saw City stumbling at the quarterfinal stage every time.
The mould was finally broken in the 2020/21 season when Man City reached their first Champions League final. However, they got outsmarted by the much more experienced local rivals Chelsea to lose the final in Portugal.
Last year City looked to be heading towards a second consecutive final but for the second time in history, Real Madrid knocked out the Citizens at the semifinal stage after a dramatic 5-3 aggregate win.
The 2022/23 season feels much different though. Man City not only reached their second Champions League final in 3 years but they hardly stumbled on the way and enter the final game of the season full of confidence and self-belief after already lifting the Premier League and the FA Cup trophies in May.
Led by the goal machine Erling Haaland City reached this year’s Champions League final undefeated. They won 4 and drew 2 in their group to easily top it. Then they trashed RB Leipzig 8-1 on aggregate before beating Bayern Munich 4-1 on aggregate. Finally, at the third time of asking they eliminated Real Madrid in the semifinals with a convincing 5-1 aggregate success. No team has been able to stop Man City so far in the Champions League. Is the wait finally over? Are Man City about to become the 23rd different club to lift the Champions League trophy? We can’t wait to find out.
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