BT Sport pundit Owen Hargreaves believes German champions Bayern Munich are the best equipped of his three former clubs to go and win the Champions League this season – despite recently sacking manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Hargreaves, who also represented both Manchester United and Manchester City during his playing career, believes each team have their strengths, but that United especially are lacking that extra bit of quality to go and compete with the top teams on the continent in the latter stages.
The former England international, speaking exclusively to 90min, explained though that City – if they’re able to continue playing the football they’ve shown in the early weeks in the season – will strike fear into other teams because of their potent attack.
Comparing United and City, and specifically their respective manager Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, Hargreaves said: “They’re so different. Two great managers but two different philosophies.
“In the Europa League final last year, Mourinho – even though it was against an inexperienced Ajax side – had a game plan and executed it perfectly and allowed them to have the ball. They let Davinson Sanchez come out with the it and picked them off.
“City are the opposite and will try and blow you away. With the changes last season they weren’t able to do that, but Ederson’s come in and has looked like he’s played there for a long time. The changes Guardiola has made have made City better. If they can get on the ball and blow teams away, they’ll have a chance.”
Asked who would progress furthest of the Manchester clubs and out of the three, he added: “It depends on the draw. City for me are the best equipped English team, but Bayern have been there every season for years, so Bayern are best equipped of the three.
“City, though – if they can get rolling with that attacking football and with all the players they have at their disposal – I don’t think anybody is going to want to play them playing the way they are right now.
“Mourinho realistically must know that the biggest teams in the Champions League are ahead of them. There’s no question about Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and PSG. But he’s proven in a one-off game that he can master a game plan that can affect any team.”
Hargreaves though admitted that he couldn’t look past current holders Real Madrid as the favourites for this year’s competition yet again, as their players have been there and won the trophy for the last two years.
“Real are favourites, but they haven’t really peaked yet,” he said. “When you win so frequently, it’s quite understandable that they start the season a little slowly.
“They’ve signed some very good young Spanish players, but have stayed with what they’ve got and it’s worked so well. (Zinedine) Zidane trusts them, and come the crucial points, those players know they need to be at their best. It’s impossible to look past them.”
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