Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City are unlikely to win the quadruple after they beat Leicester to make the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup.
Steve Nicol and Alejandro Moreno examine Manchester City’s historic start to the season and whether they can take over world football.
With reports emerging that Alexis Sanchez is set to join Man City in the summer, the FC crew wonder if he’d even make it into the lineup.
Manchester City are 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League, have set a new record for consecutive wins and are being talked about as a contender to go unbeaten domestically all season and challenge for the Champions League.
Pep Guardiola has turned them into a force that look capable of lining up alongside football’s elite and they have been rightly feted in the English media, but what has been the reaction from the TV and written press across Europe’s major cities?
ESPN FC asked correspondents in Barcelona, Munich, Italy, Madrid and Paris whether City’s form was making people sit up and take notice.
BARCELONA: Manchester City are becoming the reference point in Catalonia. Speaking on Catalan radio this week, Xavi Hernandez was asked which players in the current game are most like him. Ilkay Gundogan, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne were the first three names he gave, while Lionel Messi recently named City, along with Paris Saint-Germain, as the team to fear in the Champions League.
Both of the region’s papers, Diario Sport and Mundo Deportivo, now have correspondents based in Manchester, primarily to cover City and Pep Guardiola’s every move. “Not even the cold or the snow can stop Guardiola’s City,” Pol Ballus wrote in Sport recently. Mundo Deportivo’s Dani Gil, meanwhile, wrote that “no opponent seems good enough for untouchable City at the moment” after they thumped Tottenham.
“Historic” City are now considered among the two favourites to conquer Europe, too, by the local press and the local bookmakers. Only PSG are currently more fancied. Sam Marsden
MUNICH: Inevitably Jupp Heynckes’ return has hogged the limelight in Bavaria, but City’s remarkable winning run is a timely reminder of the standards Guardiola set during his three years at Bayern, where he won a record 19 straight Bundesliga games in his debut season and led the team to the league title at the earliest ever juncture in history.
City’s impressive form under Guardiola may have gone under the radar a little in Germany where live Premier League games are not shown on TV. Nevertheless, print coverage ramped up when Pep beat Jose Mourinho in the Manchester derby, with Welt reporting “Guardiola the conqueror drives his rivals to despair.”
As Carlo Ancelotti struggled in autumn, there was a lot of comment in the autumn on what might have been for Bayern, who missed out on Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane when Guardiola was at the helm, not to mention Ilkay Gundogan or Gabriel Jesus.
Expect increased interest from the Munich media when German football enters its traditional Winterpause, and that will crank up a notch when the Champions League knockout stages get underway in the New Year. The Munich media and the bookmakers have Guardiola’s City as one of the favourites — alongside Bayern — for the top prize. Mark Lovell
Manchester City set a new Premier League record after winning 16 consecutive games.
ITALY: Pep Guardiola is “more attractive to the Italian media than Jose Mourinho,” according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, who dedicated a page of their midweek “Extra Time” supplement to Manchester City’s 16-game Premier League winning streak.
“Every point Mou loses is a point gained by Pep; Mou’s the evil, Pep’s the good,” the article added, saying how Guardiola has become the new darling of the English game — and wherever the former Brescia midfielder is involved, he has a cult following in Italy too.
Interest in City’s record-breaking progress is certainly high in Italy, with the Sky Sports-Fox Sports network screening all but two of their Premier League fixtures this season live.
City are given as much coverage as Antonio Conte’s Chelsea, although La Gazzetta has sounded a warning. Almost all of Guardiola’s games in charge of Bayern Munich were also screened live in Italy and one trend was noted — performances dipped in spring, “but especially in these freezing days of winter, it seems like spring is really a long way off,” concluded La Gazzetta. Ben Gladwell
MADRID: Pep Guardiola’s every move as Manchester City manager is covered in the Spanish media, with the view of the former Barcelona boss generally depending on the perspective of the outlet doing the reporting.
Some in the Spanish capital remain very much “anti-Pep,” with El Chiringuito host Josep Pedrerol’s overheated outrage at Guardiola wearing a yellow ribbon in support of jailed Catalan nationalist politicians leaving little room for tactical analysis of his team.
Most voices in Madrid are impressed though, however grudgingly. Marca headlined last weekend’s match report “Bulldozer City Steamroll Tottenham” with their Manchester-based correspondent writing that the “the run goes on, as do the performances, and it shows no sign of stopping soon.”
Following the recent Manchester derby El Pais painted defeated United boss and former Madrid coach Jose Mourinho as an increasingly embittered “Salieri” figure, recalling the Milos Forman film of the same name, leaving Guardiola as the unparallelled Mozart of the piece. Dermot Corrigan
PARIS: Although Manchester City’s exceptional start to this season is regularly acknowledged in Paris, the French press are generally preoccupied with their own super club — Paris Saint-Germain — to spend too much time praising Pep Guardiola’s men.
That said, City are of interest to many in France, because of Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy and, to a lesser extent, Yaya Toure and Eliaquim Mangala, while Premier League football in general remains a massive draw on TV.
Following their demolition of Tottenham, France Football asked “who can stop Guardiola’s machine?” while their English correspondent Philippe Auclair said City already have the Premier League title sewn up, such is their dominance.
And after the Manchester derby win over United, City were voted “champions” of the weekend by L’Equipe readers. Quite an achievement considering that this was a poll across all readers and not just football fans.
The French press regularly cite City as one of PSG’s main rivals for the Champions League title and, if holders Real Madrid can be overcome, many expect the sides to cross paths at some point. Jonathan Johnson
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