The UEFA Champions League drew their eight groups comprised of the 32 most elite European clubs earlier this week. Here is a look at Manchester City’s group.
For once, City managed to avoid the most formidable European giants, and will face Italian Napoli, Dutch Feyenoord, and Ukrainian Shakhtar in group F. The “Group of Death” features Tottenham, Real Madrid, Dortmund, and APOEL Nicosia.
What can City fans come to expect from Group F action? All four clubs favour a fast paced, open style over dense defensive sets, so it is reasonable to assume City will both score and concede many goals. While this makes for excitement from a neutral perspective, Blues fans can look forward only to anxiety and heart attacks.
Napoli’s attacking trio of Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens, and Lorenzo Insigne appear particularly dangerous upon examining the threats that Kompany’s and co. will have to repel. All three are pacey strikers with the vision to find each other, the skill to slip past defenders, and the finishing to convert a variety of chances.
This is not to say City have not a track record of neutralising similar players. Pace, power, and skill are three traits many Premier League strikers possess, and Kompany, Otamendi, Walker, and Danilo have begun the season looking reliable in defensive technique and decision-making.
Shakhtar’s Imported Attack
Ukranian side Shakhtar Donetsk are known for developing young South American talents into finished products who can dominate Europe’s top leagues. Among their alumni are Chelsea ace Willian, Man Utd’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Juventus winger Douglas Costa, and City’s own box-to-box midfielder Fernandinho.
Currently, their brightest talents include midfielders Bernard and Marlos, both known for their pace and playmaking ability.
The final side in group F is Feyenoord, Rotterdam’s history-steeped biggest club. In the 60s and 70s, Feyenoord was an elite European squad, but the team has since fallen on financial issues an are looking to return to the top of the Eredivisie.
Currently in outstanding form is forward Steven Berghuis, a Dutchman, who has shown competence making chances for both his teammates and himself.
Path to the knockout stage
Despite the impressive talents in each of group F’s squads, City are clear favorites to top the group and continue to the round of 16 in the winners’ pot. None of their opponents has the same quality and depth available to coach Pep Guardiola.
The Blues do find a way to make things interesting, so fans are looking forward to exciting midweek nights in the upcoming months.