Anyone who questions Manchester City’s ability to complete a Premier League and Champions League double this season need only glance at their substitutes’ bench for the trip to Leicester.
The strength of a squad can always be measured by the quality of players who do not make the starting XI for a particular game and it would be hard to find a better collection of replacements across Europe this weekend.
Let’s start with Kevin De Bruyne. For much of his time at City, the Belgian has been the Premier League’s best creator, yet he was not included from the off here as he eases back towards full fitness following recent injury problems. If De Bruyne belonged to virtually any other club, he would have started the game.
Ederson is one player Man City really can’t do without following late saves in Leicester win
Fernandinho (front, centre) and Raheem Sterling (right) came on, showing City’s bench strength
How about Raheem Sterling? Despite scoring three times at Euro 2020 and being of the players of the tournament, the 26-year-old had to wait until the 64th minute for his opportunity, when he was sent on for Ferran Torres immediately after Bernardo Silva had scored the only goal.
Like Sterling, John Stones was a key man for England, at the heart of a defence that conceded only two goals in seven matches on their way to the Final. That did not stop Pep Guardiola preferring Aymeric Laporte alongside Ruben Dias in the centre of his four-man defence.
Jogging up and down the touchline with that trio were Fernandinho, Riyad Mahrez, Oleksandr Zinchennko and Phil Foden. Due to injury, Foden has not featured in a competitive match since the Euro 2020 semi-final win over Denmark yet as long as he is fit, he will surely have a huge role to play again for City this season.
Due to injury, Phil Foden (right) has not featured in a competitive match since the Euro 2020 semi-final
After claiming nine goals and six assists to help City regain the title last term, Mahrez will also be champing at the bit to play. Fernandinho, meanwhile, has long been one of the finest holding midfielders in the game and even at 36, he remains highly effective. Zinchenko is the lowest-profile member of this group but has never looked out of place when given his opportunity.
And to think City failed to land their top transfer target for the summer when Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy resisted their attempts to sign England captain Harry Kane.
The beauty for City – and the nightmare for their challengers – is that with a squad like this, they have no need to prioritise the Premier League or the Champions League, because they have the tools to go full tilt at both.
The beauty for City is that with a squad like this, they have the tools to win the league and Champions League
In the coronavirus economy, it is the clubs with the super-rich backers who have become ever more powerful, and it is hard to imagine the winners of Europe’s main club competition coming from outside City, Paris St Germain and Chelsea.
There is, however, one player City really cannot do without. As Leicester pressed for an equaliser, Ederson raced off his line to deny substitute Ademola Lookman a debut goal, and then did well to stop another sub, Kelechi Iheanacho.
Were it not for an 11th-hour agreement between City, FIFA and the Brazilian FA, Ederson and Gabriel Jesus would not have been available for this game. Had FIFA invoked their five-day rule, the pair would have been banned for choosing not to answer their international call-up last month.
City found a way round that problem, too. Whatever the question, they usually seem to come up with the right answer.