Manchester City's Champions League Preview: Strengths, Weaknesses, Star Man & Prediction

Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Oleksandr Zinchenko
Manchester City return to Champions League action against Real Madrid | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The Champions League returns this week after a five month hiatus, with the second leg of Manchester City's tie with Real Madrid taking place on Friday.

After a disappointing Premier League performance this season, City have a lot riding on their Champions League run, but they'll need to get past a red hot Real Madrid side if they're to stand any chance of winning the tournament. Pep Guardiola's side have a 2-1 lead heading into the second leg, but with Los Blancos in the form they're in, anything is possible.

In a competition they've consistently fallen short in, this year's Champions League run stands to be the most important one yet for the Cityzens.

Here's a look at how City shape up heading into the resumption of the Champions League.

Strengths

Manchester City's strengths have always been their immense squad depth. It's part and parcel with the vast amount of money they've spent over recent years, but it's still quite unbelievable just how much depth Guardiola's side have, particularly in the attack.

With only Sergio Aguero out with injury, City have the opportunity to field a number of different rotations up front, with any one of them good enough to beat just about anybody.

Weaknesses

Pep Guardiola
City's heartbreak at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur in last season's Champions League quarter-finals was one of many disappointments in Europe | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Undoubtedly one of City's biggest weaknesses is their tendency to crumble in Europe. No matter how strong the side have been in England, they can't get over the proverbial wall in their Champions League exploits.

A treble-winning side last year, City fell to Tottenham Hotspur in the quarter-finals. In fact, for all the money that's been spent constructing this team of elite, world class footballers, the Cityzens have never made it past the quarter finals stage of the competition.

Star Man

Kevin de Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne is arguably the best midfielder in the world right now and vital to City's success | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

There's no question on who will be City's star man heading into the Champions League's return - Kevin De Bruyne has been a man possessed this season. The Belgian tied Thierry Henry's Premier League assists record and he'll be vital to how City perform in the tournament.

Widely regarded as the best midfielder in the world today, there's not many out there who can control a game the way De Bruyne can and City will look to him on Friday to ensure they move past Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid.

Prediction

Kyle Walker, Kevin De Bruyne
City are in their best position to go on and win the trophy after struggling over recent years | David Ramos/Getty Images

Although Madrid have looked especially dangerous following football's restart, this year's Champions League trophy has City's name all over it.

With many blaming City's poor Premier League performance on their absolute determination to win the European Cup, Guardiola's side will have had their focus on the tournament from day one of the season, almost 12 months ago.

Losing their Premier League crown to Liverpool, the two year European ban given to them lifted and the upcoming departure of one of the club's greatest ever players in David Silva, all of the aforementioned will spark a catalyst in Guardiola's side and guide them to what will undoubtedly be one of their greatest ever achievements.

Prediction: Champions League winners