Two key areas which explain Manchester City's Champions League struggles

Champions League Pitch

Struggles in two key areas have left Manchester City sweating on their Champions League status, with Liverpool faring little better.

Goals win games, we can all agree on that.

In order to score goals, shots – and more specifically accurate shots – have to be fired.

If you are not getting efforts away, and those you are fail to trouble opposing goalkeepers, how can you expect to emerge victorious?

These are questions Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini should currently be putting to his expensively-assembled squad as they once again threaten to fluff their Champions League lines – for a third time in four years.

Four games into their 2014/15 campaign, City have collected a miserly two points, found the target only four times and sit bottom of Group E.

They really should not be finding things this difficult.

Yes, Bayern Munich are a European superpower and serious contenders for the overall prize, but Roma and CSKA Moscow certainly do not sit in the same bracket – and City have struggled against both.

It is, however, when looking at Opta stats that you start to understand why City – and their Premier League rivals Liverpool – have been consistently coming up short in their continental endeavours.

  Ontarget Scoring AttTotal Scoring AttAppearances
Chelsea 34 74 4
Real 33 81 4
Dortmund 31 68 4
Barcelona 23 63 4
Atletico 20 63 4
Juventus 19 62 4
Paris SG 19 56 4
Arsenal 17 48 4
Liverpool 15 54 4
Man City 14 50 4

City have hit fewer shots on target than any of the other leading clubs in this season’s Champions League, despite boasting the likes of Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic, Yaya Toure, Samir Nasir and David Silva on their books.

Meanwhile, only Arsenal - who get off lightly here as they have fared marginally better than their fellow Premier League outfits – have got fewer efforts away than the men from the Etihad.

Liverpool, who have also been left sweating on their involvement past the turn of the year, also find themselves towards the bottom of both charts, with Brendan Rodgers seemingly unable to bring the best out of attacking talents such as Mario Balotelli, Philippe Coutinho, Rickie Lambert, Fabio Borini, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling.

All is not lost for City and Liverpool, with progress still possible, but they need to start seriously raising their game if they to justify a standing among European football’s elite and avoid tripping over the first hurdle.

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