Can Anyone Derail Manchester City’s Quest for Back-to-Back Champions Leagues?

Hate them or love them, Manchester City are the best football team in the world right now. That’s not even up for debate. After winning a treble in the 2022-23 season, the only debate is how highly they rank among the greatest club sides in history.

It’s a shudder-inducing thought for the rest of the elite sides in Europe. But it’s also one that they will be fixated on over the summer as they attempt to strengthen and prepare to prevent another Man City march for European glory.

With the start of the 23-24 campaign only six weeks away, we’re examining which teams are best placed to scupper Man City in their attempts to win back-to-back Champions Leagues.

Who has what it takes?

Naturally, Man City are the favourites to win next season’s competition, but a look at the Champions League final betting odds gives us a good idea of who is fit to challenge the reigning champs. Perhaps we can start with sides motivated by revenge, of which there are plenty.

Two continental heavyweights, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, suffered the wrath of Man City last season. Bayern went out 4-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals, with new boss Thomas Tuchel looking like yesterday’s man against Pep Guardiola. The jury is still out on how well Tuchel can get on in Munich but he did the bare minimum by dramatically securing the Bundesliga title on the final day of the season.

Bayern missed having a target man up front last season, their first in many years without Robert Lewandowski leading the line. Their top scorer in all competitions last season was Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting with 17. In the previous season, Lewandowski got 50. If Bayern manages to sign Spurs forward Harry Kane, as they’re reportedly interested in doing, it would be a fitting belated replacement for the Polish striker, who’s now at Barcelona.

And while Barca would love to be thought of among the favourites for the trophy, they’ve fallen well short of the mark in recent seasons, crashing out at the group stage in consecutive years. Xavi may have a better handle on it this time around, especially with the addition of Ilkay Gundogan, who played a pivotal role in Man City’s success.

However, the leading contender from Spain is Real Madrid. Los Blancos have endured a summer of change, spending big money to bring in Jude Bellingham but also waving goodbye to Karim Benzema. Madrid president Florentino Perez claims that their summer spending has concluded but it leaves their options up front somewhat limited, even with the arrival of veteran Spain international Joselu. Given the gulf in class on show in their semi-final loss to Man City, further signings may be required.

And that’s only a few of the contenders. There are many more to mention. How will PSG perform after losing Lionel Messi? Can another English club shoulder Man City off the podium? Can Napoli hang on to Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia? The next few weeks will be fascinating.

Can Man City maintain their form?

But regardless of how their rivals strengthen, it’s hard to see any club stopping Man City if they play like they did when they were at their best in the last campaign. Their dominance in that second leg against Madrid was shocking. The term well-oiled machine has never been more fitting than for this Guardiola team. We can expect Erling Haaland to continue improving as will others like Julian Alvarez and the reborn John Stones.

Yet the likes of Manchester United and, particularly, Inter Milan showed that there is a way of testing Man City that we expect sides to incorporate as a blueprint going forward. Whatever happens, it should be another compelling season of Champions League football.