Manchester City managed to beat Everton 2–1 in their opening game of 2020. They remain in the third position in the league table, 14 points behind leaders Liverpool and only one point behind second-placed Leicester City.
While some hopefuls keep on talking about the Sky Blues challenging to finish the season in top place, manager Pep Guardiola has spoken up and claimed his side could finish as low as eighth.
The 48-year-old Spaniard commented in a recent interview saying that after being Premiership champions for the last two seasons, and now being so far off the pace set by Liverpool (who have one game in hand), any team can lose heart and finish in seventh or eighth position in the final reckoning at the end of the season.
But of course, Manchester City are not just any old team, and in a later interview Guardiola said that when everyone is fit, they can close the gap on Liverpool, but that to do so, they will have to work harder, play better, and pray.
Even so, overhauling the Reds will be a big ask, and in most people’s opinion, it will prove an ask too far. So, what does the future hold in store for Guardiola? Will he be tempted to move on?
Although former City midfielder, Michael Brown, believes Pep Guardiola could leave Manchester City in the summer for new pastures, that is not what ex-player Shaun-Wright-Philips thinks. He is of the opinion that the Spaniard will now focus his attention on winning the Champions League. If he succeeds, it will be enough to keep him at the Etihad.
But City’s next game in this year’s Champions League competition is a big one. They face Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium on the 26th of February.
Real have won the tournament a total of 13 times. Their run of four successive wins was brought to an end by Ajax last year. It was at a time when Los Blancos were not at their best, but now that Zinedine Zidane is back in the driving seat, they are heading in the right direction.
Real are second in La Liga just two points behind their main rivals, Barcelona. But, they have a tough time coming up. Over the next four weeks, they have eight fixtures encompassing La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup. It will certainly be a defining month.
There is no doubt that the Citizens will have their work cut out for them if they are to beat Real and progress in the Champions League, but it’s the sort of challenge that Guardiola relishes.
With any chances of winning the Premier League no more than a forlorn hope, becoming the champions of Europe has got to be Guardiola’s goal — especially if he can get one over on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in the process.