The UEFA Champions League group stage is back in our lives, as we get ready for what is bound to be an intriguing season of European action. There are still a lot of question marks over who the leading contenders are going to be, but the bookmakers certainly seem to believe that Manchester City are going to be leading the way in the race to claim the European Cup.
Mahrez & Gundogan were able to give the Premier League champions a first half lead, and with just under 15 minutes remaining, Gabriel Jesus was able to seal the deal.
Clearing the way
Pep Guardiola was more than happy to not only praise his own side after the win, but also their opponents.
“In the beginning it was more difficult, but the more you play against one opponent you know them better and you know a little bit what you have to do to win.
“But in the end if that has happened it is because the Barcelona, Manchester City or Bayern Munich players were incredible. That is why we could win.
“In my opinion Shakhtar made an incredible job and they wouldn’t do that if they didn’t have incredible ability to make incredible build-up. They are incredibly fast.
“They are exceptional players and I know how difficult it is, but of course we made an incredible performance. That is why we won.
“The only problem I think for Shakhtar is the rhythm. We can maintain a lot of minutes in a high rhythm, but they play in a league where it’s not as high.
“But always when I watch the opponents – for example now I am going to see Dinamo Zagreb before the next game – I try to discover the best they can do. I don’t see the weak points. I always see the strong points.”
The first steps
“Pyatov is one of the best keepers,” said Guardiola.
“When you want to make a pass behind the back four of Shakhtar he is reading (the game) perfectly. It is not easy to run behind because he anticipates the actions better than most keepers I have seen in my life. He reads exactly what’s in front of him. He’s a huge talent doing that.”
City still have a long way to go before they can even think about getting near the trophy, but they’re on the right track. They’ve had a few setbacks earlier on in the campaign, but in terms of priorities, it really does feel as if they’re going to look towards Europe as more of a priority than the league.
They’ve managed to win the EPL back to back and while they’d love to pull it off again, there’s something within them that will be desperate to finally break the drought in Europe.
Guardiola has a mission, and he’ll do everything in his power to accomplish it.