The Lost Season: Manchester City’s UCL dream may be over

As the Coronavirus situation evolves, doubts about whether or not this season’s Champions League can be finished continue to arise, which could create a potential three-season nightmare scenario for Manchester City in the UCL.

Manchester City’s two-year Champions League ban could not have come at a worse time. In the wake immediately following the decision, the club, players, and staff rallied around each other to make one final push to win the UCL with the team as currently constructed.

All was well, with City upsetting Real Madrid 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabéu and looking massive favorites heading into a second leg tie at the Etihad Stadium in the Round of 16 that we may never witness. Moreover, defending champions and heavy favorites Liverpool were knocked out by Atlético Madrid just before the COVID-19 situation forced the shutdown of global football, blowing open the doors for a new winner to be crowned.

While there remains some optimism and commitment from UEFA to finish the season in principle, the empirical reality is that this simply may not be possible. Bayern Munich defender Lucas Hernandez recently expressed this to the Daily Mail, as he believes the logistics and priority given to domestic leagues will leave this season’s European competitions void and without finality.

When added to the fact that pending a Court of Arbitration of Sport ruling, City are banned from the next two seasons of the competition, this potential scenario looks even more bleak. In one of the club’s best-ever chances to lift the trophy, with no definitive favorite around Europe, the Blues have had the opportunity taken from them, and could now be faced with three consecutive seasons without the chance to win the title.

Public health is and should remain the top priority, but from a purely football standpoint, its a gutting reality for Manchester City. If at all possible, finishing European competitions this season should be a massive goal for all involved. If its not the case, however, City will have lost another opportunity at their first Champions League title in perhaps the most agonizing way yet, and may be forced to wait until 2023 for the next chance to come around.

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