The champions of England have been drawn with the champions of Spain, Germany and Netherlands in their 2012/2013 Champions League group, giving Manchester City another ‘group of death’ to begin with.
There is no controversy here (or is there?) but it has more to do with City’s seeding in the Champions League and the fact that they are newcomers to the European stage, putting them in the second pot in UEFA’s seeding policy.
Still, when you consider that the only way this could have been a tougher draw was to have drawn an Italian team and the odds for getting such a tough draw were higher than the toughest casino games at Lucky Nugget, you wonder what City will need to do to progress beyond the group stages this year.
The draw, and today’s transfer deadline, intensifies the need for strengthening City’s squad. So far any transfers agreed to were distinctly designed to rotating City’s squad players, shipping out unwanted players for fresh blood (and cheaper wages). City still need to offload certain players and bring in a quality defender, and looking at their tough fixture list in 2012 that would now involve two matches with Real Madrid and two more with Dortmund, they will need to have their best squad available to stand a chance of qualifying for the knockout rounds.
If Mancini gets his way today and City bring in the reinforcements he’s been asking for since the end of last season, City will once again be a formidable rival and a side that will genuinely test Real Madrid and could potentially look to top their group. Last season City were more fortunate than other clubs with injuries and this year’s recruitment policy looks designed to help deflect any potential crisis caused by injuries.
Only time will tell if City can cope with the expectations of defending their title and being successful in the Champions League (where a minimum last eight appearance seems necessary). It’s uncharted territory as far as City are concerned, but there’s no where they would rather be. If City want to dominate football, it all starts here, defending their Premier League title and succeeding in the Champions League.