For the second time in the club history Manchester City will participate in the UEFA Champions League Semifinals. The only previous appearance in the final four was in 2016 where City lost 1-0 on aggregate to Real Madrid.
Over the past several seasons, luck has not been on the side of City. Slight offside calls, injuries, and mental struggles have all prevented City from advancing. Losses due to away goals have only added to the bitter nature around Champions League to fans. The collapse in Lisbon last season created a feeling that no matter what, City would always collapse in the quaterfinals. Scroll through City Twitter and the hesitation and anxiety was evident before kickoff, despite City having 2-1 advantage.
For once, luck was on Manchester City’s side. Instead of losing out on 50/50 calls as has happened in the past, City were on the recieving end. In both legs there was controversy over penalties. One not given at the Etihad for Dortmund and one given at Westfalenstadion for City. City also had an entirely fit squad, something that has rarely been the case in the past several seasons. In any knock out competition, luck is important. This time luck was on City’s side.
The other major difference was in the mentality of the entire team. There was no over thinking the tactics in either leg, as occurred against Lyon in Lisbon. The squad did not let the fireworks outside of the hotel in the middle of the night completely shatter their mental state as happened with the Anfield bus incident. Over both legs the squad was able to handle the pressure better than they have in the past. Combined with key players stepping up in ways they have failed to do before, the team that faced Dortmund was mentally stronger than the previous squads. Despite this, there were still moments over the course of the tie where the mental vulnerability showed.
In the semifinal City will face PSG. it will be a high profile clash featuring the likes of Neymar and Mbappe against the likes of De Bruyne and Gundogan. PSG will be looking to return to the UCL final for the second year in a row, while Manchester City will be looking to play in the club’s first. It is sure to be an entertaining match-up for the neutrals.
However, before the semifinal, Man City have other important matchups to worry about. Including the FA Cup semifinal against Chelsea and the League Cup final against Tottenham. Manchester City will also be looking to wrap up the Premier League title, as the club currently sits comfortably in first place. The next month has the potential to be very exciting for the blue half of Manchester.