On paper, Manchester City have one of the best teams around. Packed full of world class stars that can change the outcome of a game in an instance, there is a reason they’re one of the favourites to win any tournament they’re a part of. They’ve claimed almost every trophy possible, all except that famous Champions League trophy which still eludes them, despite making the final of the tournament last year.
But what would happen to them if they had an injury crisis like that which Liverpool suffered last season? What if their key players were not available for the big games?
Kevin De Bruyne tests positive for COVID
Well, it looks like we will find out, because upon return from International duty with Belgium, key player Kevin De Bruyne is not going to be available for at least 10 days. Following his return to Manchester, the player, like many others, had to follow COVID-19 protocols and be tested to ensure he did not carry the coronavirus. However, sadly, his tests would return as being positive, and he would have to self-isolate for at least 10 days before he will be allowed to join up with his teammates.
Currently, it is unknown if he is suffering from any severe symptoms, but it is believed that he is symptom free. However, as time goes on, his health could deteriorate and so he could actually end up out for a longer period of time. And if he develops long COVID as a consequence of this, it could keep him out of the game for even longer, and potentially affect Manchester City’s season.
Sure, they have a tonne of quality at their disposal, and no one quite saw the talent that Phil Foden would become, except for maybe his manager Pep Guardiola. At times this season, Foden has played alongside De Bruyne, or just in front of him. But he’s also helped cover the Belgian star when he has been out injured, contributing in both scoring and assisting goals.
And he’s not the only quality player Manchester City have to cover the absence. In midfield, they have a huge selection of top talent that can help contribute, from the likes of Rodri, Gundogan, Grealish, just to name a few. So realistically, they should cope alright without him. However it’s not just his presence on the pitch they’ll miss, but also having a top individual around in the background too, helping coach the youngsters in training and just being their for support when needed.
As it stands, the Belgian midfield maestro has already missed one game in the premier league, when Manchester City hosted Everton at the Etihad. But despite his omission from the matchday squad, they were able to turn Everton over in what turned into a routine win for the Manchester team. With the likes of young Phil Foden coming through the ranks, and setting the premier league alight, City didn’t look like they missed De Bruyne for a single second. But in fairness, they were playing a wounded Everton side missing the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
How could it affect their Champions League campaign?
What will it mean for their champions league hopes though? Will missing such a key individual affect Manchester City Champions League odds? Well, against poorer opposition, people may not have given it a second thought that City would be alright on the night. But sadly for City fans, they aren’t just playing any team. They’re playing a star-studded Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) side, with world class talent such as Gianluigi Donnarumma, Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi.
It is going to be a game where Pep Guardiola will have wanted every single player available and fully fit, to give them the best chance of securing a place in the knockout stages. Instead, they lose one of the world’s best midfielders, and will miss his talent for picking out long-range passes, crossing in balls from set-pieces and simply put, his vision and ability to create something from nothing.
As it stands though, Manchester City are top of the group with nine points, despite having lost a game already to PSGwho sit second on eight. They had originally dominated the first game, having the majority of the possession, but somehow, they just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. Whereas PSG were much more clinical, especially on the counter attack when City lost the ball. And they would ultimately go on to punish them.
However, City have managed to win all their other games, but PSG have ended up drawing twice, once against Club Brugge and another draw to RB Leipzig. In both games they had gained the lead, only to allow the opposition to slip back in due to poor defensive errors. And if those defensive errors crop up against City, you can bet that they won’t make the mistakes they did in poor finishing the first time the two sides met.
The problem for City is if they lose again. They will not only slip to 2nd in the group, two points behind PSG, but if Club Brugge win too, they would only be two points ahead of them. Meaning that come the final game of the group stages, if City were to lose against RB Leipzig and Club Brugge pull off a shock against PSG, who will have already qualified, then City could drop out of the competition altogether.
It won’t necessarily mean they’re out of Europe, as they will finish no lower than third, which would see them drop to the Europa League. And they would no doubt be favourites to win that should it happen. That said, the odds of this happening are slim, but sometimes in football miracles do happen, and it wouldn’t be the first time that Club Brugge have caused upsets. With historic results against both Manchester United and AC Milan previously in the competition.
Only time will tell how serious his absence will be, but this City side is one full of quality. And unless they begin to lose a few more players to injury, it’s likely fans will have nothing to worry about.