Before “Barcelona v. PSG” there was “Manchester City v Monaco.” In the space of two weeks, the Champions League gave us two of the best matches in recent memory. Luckily for us, this tie is still undecided.
Despite losing Gabriel Jesus to injury, Pep and co. have been able to maintain the bounce he provided. In fact, they haven’t lost since mid-January, with Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling coming into form in the meantime. They visit Monaco with a two goal cushion, but gave up three away goals.
While City scored five in the first leg, Monaco led 2-1 at half-time and then later 3-2. After getting three goals in Manchester, the math here isn’t too complicated - win by two. With an attack that has scored 123 goals so far this season, Monaco certainly have the firepower, if they can tighten up an often-exposed backline. Complicating matters is their best defender, Kamil Glik, missing this match with a suspension. What likely that means is likely another back-and-forth shoot-out. Monaco showed they're certainly capable of getting past City, but whether they can hold a lead remains to be seen.
Runners-up in the Champions League in 1994, the principality’s club spent last season in the Europa league while finishing third in Ligue 1. Monaco struggled to find a reliable threat up top last season with Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar joint top scorers in the league with five goals apiece. To that end, Falcao is back from his disappointing loans in the Premier League with hopes to revive his career. Otherwise, Les Rouges et Blancs will look to the Portuguese duo of João Moutinho and the aforementioned Silva to control matches and create chances. They’ll face a difficult, but not impossible group which will include a trip to Moscow and matchups against Spurs and Bayer Leverkusen.
While City have blossomed into one of the top teams in England, European glory has continued to be frustratingly out of their grasp. To that end, the Citizens finally got their man, Pep Guardiola. His mandate is clear - win Manchester City’s first ever Champions League trophy. Pep has made his mark early - banishing Joe Hart to Turin in favor of Claudio Bravo, calling in midfield reinforcements from the Bundesliga in İlkay Gündoğan and Leroy Sane, and strengthening in attack with Nolito. If Sergio Aguero can remain healthy, there can be no excuses for not making a confident run toward the final this year.
The versatile midfielder has made nearly 100 appearances for both the Portuguese national team and Monaco.
Scored 11 goals in 19 appearances in his last season at Monaco, before being injured in halfway through the season.