Ever since Pep Guardiola was named Manchester City manager, City has been arguably the best team in England and one of the best in Europe. After his debut season where City failed to win a trophy, they dominated in 2017-18, winning two trophies and becoming the first team to have 100 points in the Premier League (in addition to a raft of other records)
Being the first Premier League team to have 100 points in a season is huge, but there’s still more for Manchester City to accomplish. They hired Pep Guardiola to win the Champions League and that’s the one trophy they don’t have yet. This team is set up to go for every trophy and as of mid-March, they are still in line to win something that would’ve been unheard of at the start of the season.
There’s a reason why only two English teams (Liverpool and Manchester United) ever won a treble: because it’s insanely difficult. It doesn’t matter how great your team is, there’s only so much you can do when playing for four trophies. Something has got to give.
Manchester City is trying their hardest to not only win a treble, but go one further and win a quadruple. Before their FA Cup quarterfinal matchup against Swansea, City already has the EFL Cup, are one point ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League, and have drawn Tottenham in the Champions League quarterfinal. City survived the pitfalls of the congested holiday season and have one more international break before they enter the final stretch with the chance to make history.
If Manchester City is to make history, they will have to play an insane stretch of games after the March international break. City hasn’t lost since January, are unbeaten in their last 10 with a combined score of 30-5, and their only draw in that stretch was the EFL Cup win in penalties over Chelsea. When they need to rotate, City’s bench players could start on most other teams, so they don’t lose much power when they have to start a bench player. If they can keep up that form, City can get through unscathed.
Even with this stacked team, this April and May schedule is one of the most difficult schedules any team has had to face. When they come back from the international break, this is their (projected) schedule should they win out in the FA Cup and Champions League.
Saturday March 30 – Fulham (A)
Weekend of April 6 – FA Cup semifinal
Saturday April 6 – Cardiff (H) (Needs to be moved)
Tuesday April 9 – Tottenham (A) (Champions League)
Sunday April 14 – Crystal Palace (A)
Wednesday April 17 – Tottenham (H) (Champions League)
Saturday April 20 – Tottenham (H)
Wednesday April 24 – Manchester United (A)
Sunday April 28 – Burnley (A)
Tuesday or Wednesday April 30-May 1 – Ajax/Juventus winner (Champions League)
Saturday May 4 – Leicester (H)
Tuesday or Wednesday May 7-8 – Ajax/Juventus winner (Champions League)
Sunday May 12 – Brighton (A) (Final day of the Premier League)
Saturday May 18 – FA Cup Final
Saturday June 1 – Champions League Final
As you can see, if City makes the semis in both the FA Cup and Champions League, they will begin April with midweek games for the rest of the Premier League season. This is also a problem because their April 6 game against Cardiff would need to be rescheduled and there’s no other spot to put them. The only other opening would be in between Fulham and the FA Cup, moving the game a few days before. But with so many other logistical things needing to be done to make that happen in such a short period of time, that may or may not be possible.
If they get to the semis in both tournaments, City will need to play 13 games between Fulham and the final day of the Premier League. Liverpool, not in the FA Cup, will have 11 if they get to the Champions League semis. In a tight Premier League chase, Liverpool may be drawing one too many games to stay ahead of City but those two fewer games could be pivotal.
In terms of Champions League, if City were to eliminate Spurs, they face either Ajax or Juventus. Of those two, Juventus is the favorite to advance and if they don’t drop any points in Serie A, Juve will have clinched the title before facing City, giving them the luxury of putting their entire focus into Champions League. Plus, Cristiano Ronaldo keeps turning back the clock and scoring hat tricks, so that could be a very difficult semifinal.
On the FA Cup side, City has Championship side Swansea in the quarters, and a lot of the big teams have already been eliminated. Other than Manchester United, the other teams in the FA Cup are either midtable or below Premier League sides (Wolves, Watford, Crystal Palace, Brighton) or Championship side Millwall. Unless United beats them, City should win the FA Cup.
A lot of things still need to go City’s way if they are to win the quadruple. There is still a lot in play between now and mid-May. The FA Cup is most likely going to City. After that, it’s going to be difficult. It’s fair to consider City the favorites in the Premier League but that’s so close it’ll come down to the wire. And the later rounds of the Champions League is built for every team to win and advance. So while City may be the favorites there as well, they still need to get through three tough opponents. If Manchester City is to win the quadruple, or even the treble, they will need to earn it by keeping up their high scoring style in this difficult final stretch of the season. If anyone can do it, it’s this Manchester City team.
[Photo: Getty Images]