City have struggled to make an impact in the Champions League except for a semi-final appearance in 2015/2016. Despite all the money they have splashed over the past 4-5 seasons, success in Europe has eluded them.
City were knocked out by a rampant Monaco side in the round of 16 last year and will be hoping to do better this year. They started off in Pot 2 in the draw and will be decently satisfied having avoided most of the heavyweights from Pot 1. They have been drawn in Group F alongside Ukranian Champions Shakhtar Donetsk, exciting Italian side Napoli, and Dutch champions Feyenoord.
Here is a look at what is in store for City in Group F:
Shakhtar won the Ukrainian league by 13 points last season. But they have lost too many crucial players over the last few seasons. Their last appearance in this competition was in 2015/2016 as they failed to get through the qualifying rounds last time around. Playing in Kharkiv rather than Lviv should help the atmosphere as they look to get back their attacking brand of football that threatened many of Europe’s top sides in the past few years.
Despite entering the group through pot 3, Napoli should pose the biggest threat to Pep Guardiola’s side. They only finished 3rd last season in the Serie A but their attacking brand of football could cause trouble to City’s defence. They were rampant in their Playoff win against Nice as they won both the home and away legs by 2 goals to nil. Under Maurizio Sarri, Napoli has become one of the most prolific sides in Europe. With goals coming from Dries Mertens, Arkadiusz Milik, Jose Callejon, Lorenzo Insigne and Marek Hamsik. Add to the mix the attacking fullbacks Faouzi Ghoulam and Elseid Hysaj and they look scary on paper. Jorginho, Piotr Zielinski, and Kalidou Koulibaly provide them with much-needed steel and Guardiola must already be scratching his head as to how he tackles the Naples based side. Napoli got the better of Manchester City in the 2011/12 group stage – the English club’s first UEFA Champions League campaign. The teams drew 1-1 in Manchester on matchday one before a 2-1 home success in Naples. Edinson Cavani scored all three Napoli goals. Exciting contest from a neutral point of view.
Feyenoord won the Dutch title for the first time in 18 years in an inspiring season under Giovanni Van Bronckhorst but they are now without arguably their three most influential players in Dirk Kuyt (retired), Terence Kongolo (Monaco) and Rick Karsdorp (Roma).The Dutch side returns to Europe’s premier competition after 15 seasons since their last appearance in 2002/2003. They will hope to prove that they are more than just fillers in Group F.
City open their campaign with a trip to Netherlands to face Feyenoord on the 13th of September and Pep will hope that they start well.