Is Manchester City’s UEFA Champions League Drought Finally Set to End? 

Manchester City FC
Manchester City FC are one of the major clubs of English Football (Credits: The Guardian)

Way back in 2008, the English footballing landscape changed forever. That’s because Manchester City, forever in the shadow of their more illustrious cross-city rivals United, had just been taken over by Abu Dhabi’s oil-rich Sheikh Mansour. He proclaimed that he would propel The Blues into an all-conquering team, and he proved that he meant business, signing household name Robinho on his first day of business in a stunning £30m deal from Real Madrid. 

14 years on from that famous transfer deadline day, The Citizens are still without the one trophy that their owners desire the most. Admittedly, there have been six Premier League crowns added to the club’s trophy cabinet, including four in the last five years, with a fifth surely just around the corner this season as well. The club has also claimed the FA Cup twice and the League Cup six times during Sheikh Mansour’s ownership. 

But in the UEFA Champions League, the club has only known pain. Anyway, as until May 17th, when a 4-0 rout of reigning champions Real Madrid secured City’s spot in the Istanbul showpiece on June 10th. The Blues will meet Inter Milan in a mouth-watering finale, and makes them the overwhelming -400 (1/4) favorites to secure their maiden ‘Big Eared’ trophy. 

City’s Decade of Continental Hurt

Manchester City’s first-time dining at European football’s most elite of dinner tables came back in the 2011/12 season. Unfortunately, however, that would end in disappointment as The Blues finished behind Bayern Munich and Napoli to fall in the very first round. The club went on to win their first Premier League title in dramatic circumstances later that season, but continental disappointment was a feeling that fans of the club would have to get used to. 

The following campaign, they were once again eliminated at the group stages, this time finishing behind Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. In 2013/14, they would finally make it into the knockout rounds however, they would immediately fall into the hands of FC Barcelona. But that was at least progress. And the following campaign, they would reach their first-ever Champions League semifinal, before losing out to eventual champions Real Madrid. 

Following that run to the final four, City would perennially disappoint. They were stunned by a Kylian Mbappé inspired AS Monaco in Pep Guardiola’s first season in charge of the club, before three consecutive quarterfinal exits at the hands of Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Lyon. And to make things worse, The Blues were the overwhelming favorites to progress on each occasion. 

In 2021, Guardiola finally led the club to their first-ever Champions League final in Porto. There, however, they would come up against a staunch Chelsea side determined to lift the trophy for the second time in their history. And that is exactly what happened courtesy of Kai Havertz’s first-half winner

Erling Haaland Addition Could Take City All the Way 

But this season, things feel different at the Etihad Stadium. And there is one man responsible for that. Erling Haaland

The Norwegian powerhouse arrived from Borussia Dortmund for a bargain £50m last summer, and he has proceeded to fire the club to the brink of just the second treble in the history of English football. The Blues look to have the Premier League wrapped up. Then, they have the small matter of two huge finals on the horizon, an FA Cup final against Manchester United and then the big one, the Champions League final against Inter Milan. 

The former Red Bull Salzburg has smashed 52 goals in 49 games so far this term, and he shows no sign of slowing down. 12 of those goals have come in just 10 Champions League appearances and it’s clear that the 22-year-old is the difference between Manchester City being contenders and winners. He was brought to the club to secure the City’s place as the best club on the continent, and in less than a month, he may very well succeed at his task, barely 12 months into his five-year-deal. 

Nerazzurri Hope to Spoil City’s Party 

Of course, Inter Milan are no pushovers. They have reached the Champions League final against all odds, just as they did 13 years ago when they completed a famous treble of their own under the iconic Jose Mourinho. And that treble remains the only treble in the history of Italian football. 

The 2021 Serie A champions had to navigate a tricky group this season, containing both Bayern Munich and Barcelona. They managed to finish second behind the record-breaking German Champions and from there, the draw simply opened for them. They managed to secure favorable ties against Portuguese outfits FC Porto and Benfica in the last 16 and quarterfinals, two tests the club passed with flying colors. 

Then, they met their eternal rival AC Milan in the semifinals, a repeat of the duo’s final-four tussles exactly two decades prior. That time around, it was the Rossoneri who came out on top, before going on to defeat Juventus in Manchester on penalties. Inter dispacted their rivals handily over two legs and now they will be hoping to match their city rivals’ exploits next month, however, manager Simone Inzaghi will be under no illusions of the herculean task that lies ahead of both him and his team.