Manchester City will be looking to continue their fine 17-match unbeaten run in all competitions when they face Fiorentina at The Academy Stadium on Wednesday in the first leg of their UEFA Women’s Champions League round of 16 tie.
City have been in tremendous form having not lost in 90 minutes since their 3-1 defeat at the hands of Chelsea back in October. That form has seen them progress to the round of 16 in the UEFA Women’s Champions League where they will face Italian side Fiorentina.
Gareth Taylor’s side prepared for their latest European tie with a 4-0 victory over Birmingham City at the weekend. The fixture marked the start a very congested period for the blue half of Manchester as they play four matches in the space of 12 days but City’s head coach isn’t concerned about the hectic schedule.
“The players are really up for it,” said Taylor when speaking in the club’s pre-match press conference in which FAWSL Full-Time were present. “I think we all enjoy having a period of games back-to-back in quick succession.
“To be successful in that, you want healthy numbers and the squad’s looking good at the moment.”
With the high level of performance that Taylor’s side are currently producing, the City boss believes that anything is possible ahead of his side’s round of 16 tie but he knows only too well that his side must keep their eye on the ball.
“I believe we can win it,” he said. “I think we’re good enough to win it, actually achieving that is the hard part.
“In cup competitions, you don’t tend to get any real second chances.
“We’re in a good position but there’s still a job to be done.”
Taylor’s caution is perfectly understandable as the UEFA Women’s Champions League has not brought City much joy in recent seasons. The Cityzens have been knocked out by Atletico Madrid in the last two campaigns in the round of 32 and round of 16 since the club made the semi-finals in 2018. Given the strength of this year’s squad which includes former UEFA Women’s Champions League winners Alex Greenwood and Lucy Bronze and world champions Abby Dahlkemper, Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle, Taylor believes that reaching the latter stages of the competition is an expectation.
“There’s a nucleus of the team that have experienced that” stated Taylor when reflecting on previous seasons’ heartache. “But then we also have other players who have been successful in this competition who have joined us.
“We put ourselves under pressure. When you work or play for a big club like City we’re expected to be there, we want to be there.
“We’re asked the question ‘why?’ when we’ve not been there. That never changes.”
With world class talent in clubs such as Barcelona, VfL Wolfsburg, and Lyon, it will not be an easy task for Taylor and his players to go all the way in this competition. Still, they have to overcome formidable opponents in the shape of Fiorentina first.