The draw for the last 16 of the 2016 Champions League delivered a mixed bag for British clubs, with Arsenal pitted against incumbent title holders Barcelona, while Chelsea face in-form Paris Saint-Germain, and Man City take on Dynamo Kiev.
The reaction across the Twittersphere resoundingly assumed that Arsenal’s campaign will come grinding to a halt against Messi, Suarez, Neymar and co.
While Chelsea’s chances of overcoming PSG at the moment were given short shrift.
— Citizen TV Kenya (@citizentvkenya) December 14, 2015
Man City look the good value for 2016 Champions League
The smart money when it comes to UEFA competitions betting options in 2016 seems to be on Manchester City. The Blues have drawn Dynamo Kiev. A side whose vulnerabilities were exposed on a number of notable occasions during the group stages.
Back in September, Dynamo’s campaign got off to an innocuous start with a 2-2 draw against FC Porto. A game in which they only avoided defeat thanks to Vitaliy Buyalskyy’s 89th-minute equaliser.
The Ukrainian club improved in their second outing. Beating Maccabi Tel-Aviv 2-0 in Israel, but came unstuck in their following two group games against Chelsea.
A dour 0-0 draw at Olimpiyskiy Stadium preceded a 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge against Jose Mourinho’s drastically underperforming Blues.
Subsequent wins over Porto and Maccabi did little to shift the idea that Dynamo would be the beneficiaries of having been placed in a rather weak Champions League group.
City, meanwhile, navigated their way through a tricky Group D. A group which included Italian champions Juventus as well as Sevilla and Borussia Monchengladbach.
City did brilliant and emerged as the top team in the group with 12 points from their six matches.
There have been times when City have looked out of sorts in the Premier League this season. Not least when Liverpool dealt them a 4-1 thrashing at the Etihad in November. Or when they limped to a 2-0 defeat at Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium, much to the delight of former Manchester City manager Mark Hughes – who now coaches the Potters.
Man City are ruthless when they play with confidence
But in Europe, Manuel Pellegrini’s men have produced some of their best football. The manner in which they overcame Monchengladbach in their final group game showed how ruthless they can be.
City were pegged back 2-1 at half-time, after goals from Julian Korb and Raffael Caetano cancelled out David Silva’s opener.
It was the man who provided the assist for that opener, Raheem Sterling, who delivered the goods in the second half. Putting in one of his best performances in a blue shirt, in the process.
Sterling levelled the game with a superb goal from Wilfried Bony’s assist. The same combination of players gave City the lead two minutes later, with Sterling again the man on the end of a fine passing move.
Bony completed the victory with an 85th-minute goal, but it was Sterling who earned the plaudits for his man-of-the-match performance. It was for exactly this type of all-action display that Manuel Pellegrini brought Sterling to Manchester.
If he continues his current form then City could well brush Dynamo aside to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.