After picking up five wins from five in what has been an amazing start to the season, Manchester City will be determined to transfer that form to their latest attempt to have the desired effect on the European stage, which begins at home to 2015 runners-up Juventus.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men have again been placed in a tricky group, with Europa League winners Sevilla and German club Borussia Monchengladbach also providing opposition in the months ahead. However, if they can indeed play in these matches as they have in the early weeks of the campaign, City should have no reason to fear any side that stands in their way.
Comprehensive second round defeats at the hands of Barcelona have accounted for City in this competition in each of the past two seasons, but on the whole the club has never convinced they qualified for the first time in 2011. For the amount of quality that exists in the squad and the amount of money they have spent, failure to reach the quarter-finals in four attempts is a record that simply must be put right this time around.
A big-spending summer certainly suggests they are well enough equipped to achieve that, with Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne adding some much needed pace and flair to their attacking play, something which was occasionally lacking in 2014-15, despite the regular goalscoring exploits of Sergio Aguero. New £32m defender Nicolas Otamendi is yet to feature, but that has hardly mattered due to a perfect defensive record of none conceded thus far.
That helped them at Crystal Palace on Saturday as a late goal from little-known teenager Kelechi Iheanacho edged them to a win which extended their lead at the top of the Premier League. There seems to be a real authority about City at present and if that can be maintained here, Juventus will surely encounter problems.
The Italian champions have made a very disappointing start to the defence of their league title, losing to Udinese and Roma before only claiming a point at home to Chievo on Saturday, so they are hardly setting the world alight. Defenders such as Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci will be tough to penetrate, but the Turin club are certainly showing signs that they could be got at, particularly if City can keep Paul Pogba quiet and cut the supply line to Alvaro Morata.
This match will provide a very good indication of whether City can now challenge in the latter rounds of the Champions League, but they may have to make do without Aguero and Sterling, who both face a race against time to fit. David Silva is likely to be back, however, while Juventus may recall Stephan Lichtsteiner to their starting line-up.
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