Champions League fixtures give Man City boost they didn’t have last season – Joe Bray

City avoided the likes of Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan, with their toughest Group G opponents being RB Leipzig – who have conceded 13 goals in their two visits to the Etihad over the last two seasons.

Red Star Belgrade will likely be more bark than bite, while Young Boys shouldn&apost pose a threat to the European Champions. The defence is off to the easiest start that City could have dreamed of.

Even the most difficult fixtures in the group come at convenient times – the trip to Leipzig is up second, while the hostile welcome they will get in Belgrade is last. City will expect to be safely qualified well before their trip to Serbia.

And when the European fixtures are put in the context of the Premier League, there are no &aposseason-defining weeks that have been present in recent group stages. Like the week where City went to Chelsea, PSG and Liverpool in the space of seven days in 2021.

The opener against Red Star is three days after the difficult trip to West Ham and four days before the visit of Nottingham Forest – a week that shouldn&apost provide too many issues. The Leipzig away game is in between three trips in succession – to Wolves and then Arsenal – but City will still have four days to prepare for a big clash at the Emirates.

The journey to Young Boys is four days after a potentially-difficult visit of Brighton, and four days before the first Manchester derby. Even then, Bern is a better trip than somewhere further afield in Europe, and Young Boys are not on par with either Brighton or United.

A fortnight later when Young Boys are in Manchester, City get a Tuesday game in between a home fixture with Bournemouth and a trip to Chelsea.

The week where City would have most preferred a home game is the one between home clashes with Liverpool and Tottenham. They get that, and also play on the Tuesday for Leipzig&aposs visit. That game should ensure that the Liverpool game is played on the Friday or Saturday rather than the Sunday before.

Finally, the game at Red Star is on the Wednesday before City should be flying out to the Club World Cup. By then, Guardiola will hope his side are qualified for the knockout stages, and changes can be made.

The only negatives to the schedule are that Arsenal and United will have an extra day to prepare for their Premier League clashes with City, but the fact that those two sides play on different matchday mean they will have less time to prepare for other games on other gameweeks.

With no overly difficult opponents, no obvious scheduling issues, and a favourable fixture list for the more difficult group games, City can use the Champions League to try and qualify as soon as possible, before utilising their full squad to rest key players and bring on fringe players who need the minutes.

The likes of Jeremy Doku, Josko Gvardiol, Matheus Nunes and even Mateo Kovacic will need time to acclimatise to their new surroundings. Oscar Bobb can help the team, but will need games to put his training into practice. Players like Kalvin Phillips, Sergio Gomez and Rico Lewis can benefit from more chances of playing games – either in the Champions League, or in the fixtures before and after those games.