Manchester City’s relationship with the Champions League isn’t exclusively a contemporary one.
The club’s maiden appearance in the competition came way back when during the 1968/69 season, but their disappointing early exit would foreshadow future continental woes.
City have evolved into a juggernaut under Pep Guardiola; a side so often regarded as the very best Europe has to offer. A team as coherent and talented as the Sky Blues are worthy of multiple Champions League crowns, exemplified by their domination of a hugely competitive Premier League, but Guardiola’s Citizens have perpetually come up short on the European stage.
While Pep’s stint in Manchester has been nothing short of scintillating, the Spaniard’s not yet been able to fit the final piece into his jigsaw.
Manchester City have featured in the Champions League 12 times, and in every season since 2011/12, but they’ve never yet won the competition.
Their maiden European Cup entry after being crowned First Division champions in 1968 culminated in a round of 32 exit at the hands of Fenerbahce. The club drifted in and out of obscurity thereafter, jumping between divisions, before stability was established throughout the noughties which climaxed in an ownership change that brought about relevancy to the sky blue side of Manchester.
United’s noisy neighbours were as loud as ever as they dramatically claimed their first Premier League title at the end of the 2011/12 season – a first since 1968. City’s rise saw them emerge as regulars in UEFA’s premier club competition, but they simply weren’t on the level of Europe’s behemoths during the formative stage of their journey.
City began the decade with back-to-back group stage exits before Barcelona schooled them twice in the round of 16 in both 2014 and 2015. Qualification into the knockout stages signalled progression, however, and they continued on their linear trajectory in 2015/16 as they reached the semi-finals for the first time under Manuel Pellegrini. Real Madrid, though, squeaked out a 1-0 victory over two legs before going on to win the competition.
Despite their domestic success, City’s expectations in Europe were relatively low before the arrival of Guardiola in 2016. The two-time Champions League winner had failed to claim glory in the competition at Bayern Munich, but his status as the finest manager of his generation from two previous continental…