While Man City managed to avoid the traditional European giants in the draw after finishing second in their group, facing Monaco is no consolation. They’ll enter the tie without Gabriel Jesus - the spark that led them to four straight wins after a couple rocky weeks. More concerning than missing Jesus’s goals, will be the recent uptick in belief and energy he brought to the squad. Guardiola must look to Sterling, Sane and De Bruyne to continue the creative streak Jesus infused into City. And while Sergio Aguero has looked at times a round peg in a square hole under Pep Guardiola, he has scored 16 goals this season.
Meanwhile, the away side have had no problems finding inspiration in Ligue 1 - scoring 76 goals in 24 matches, 26 more than the second highest-scoring side, PSG. Monaco have seven players with six goals or more, but will miss versatile midfielder Boschilia, who recently ruptured his ACL. Falcao may have been a tabloid joke while on loan at Manchester United and Chelsea, but he’s again a threat to be taken seriously at Monaco. And with City’s defensive confusion this season, he could mean the end of any serious challenge from an English side in the UCL.
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.
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.
Had the best goals-per-minute ratio in the EPL last season.
The unheralded midfielder is crucial in breaking up attacks box-to-box.
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.