On Friday morning, Manchester City learnt that their Champions League Quarter-Final opponents would be none other than Tottenham Hotspur. I don’t know if it was just me who blew a sigh of relief when I saw us drawn against the North London club, but it was getting very close to Barcelona and dare I say it, Manchester United territory.
For me, Spurs would’ve been my third choice if I was given the chance to pick. Porto and Ajax, of course, were the teams everyone wanted to get. But with City’s and particularly Guardiola’s good record against the Lilywhites recently, I really do fancy us to go through.
City did the double over Tottenham last season, beating them emphatically 4-1 at home in January, days after a gruelling Manchester derby at Old Trafford. In a contrasting situaiton, City showed brilliant character to beat them 3-1 at Wembley after a torrid week which saw us blow a two goal lead against United to win the title and going out of the Champions League at the hands of Liverpool.
City won again at Wembley earlier in the season, with Riyad Mahrez scoring the only goal on the battered NFL-branded pitch to hand the Blues a vital three points. However, with the quarter-finals drawn in the week directly before City’s home league fixture against Spurs, there is sure to be a greater risk of defear in what is becoming the action-packed month for the champions.
The big issue surrounding the tie is that the first leg will be Tottenham’s new ground, which will christen its maiden Champions League fixture when the Blues are in town. Listening to ex-players post the draw, it seems it could have one of two effects on the players.
The first is potentially a greater problem for City than the team that will line up against them. Finally unleashed on their new stadium with the expectation of a grand European atmosphere, it may well be that that the crowd and players rise to the occasion and exceed expectations. Should the night prove lectric and Spur (I’m really sorry) the Tottenham squad on, City will surely have to make a Herculean effort to brave the tide.
At least their social admin seems up for it.
The second option, and the far more threantening for Tottenham, is that in the face of a different pre-match routine and in a disorientating scenario, Spurs may well bottle it. Not to indulge a long-standing cliche, but it would seem there is far more evidence for this option, especially given Tottenham’s form since managing to beat Borussia Dortmund.
City will hope to go into the game with a full squad. Guardiola confirmed in his Swansea pre-match press conference that all of Kevin De Bruyne, Fernandinho, John Stones and Benjamin Mendy will hopefully be fully fit after the upcoming international break and will be a welcome boost to the squad. Barring any injuries, Pep will be confident that we can do the job over two legs with a fully fit squad.
In the other news, should City progress, they will face one of either Juventus or Ajax in the semi-finals. This comes after a new UEFA system means the draw for the rest of the competition is made at this stage.
If you’re feeling super confident, City would be the home team in the final if we were to get that far.
So, in conclusion… we’re all going to Madrid.
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