Neil Humphreys: Only PSG can stop Man City’s Quadruple dream
Even Bayern may struggle against Guardiola's winning machine
The most chilling aspect of Manchester City's latest record-breaking victory wasn't the daft passing stats, Riyad Mahrez's wonder strike or even Bernardo Silva's immaculate team goal.
It was a late cameo.
In the 80th minute, substitute Kevin de Bruyne returned from injury.
Pep Guardiola was practically showing off in their 3-1 league win over Everton yesterday morning (Singapore time), like a trust fund baby pulling out yet another trinket beyond the wildest dreams of regular people.
After becoming the first team in top-flight history to win the first 10 matches in a calendar year, making it 12 consecutive victories in the English Premier League and 17 in all competitions, let's bring on the club's best player.
After completing a staggering 753 passes to Everton's 306, let's introduce one of the finest passers in modern football.
Guardiola's public display of unrivalled wealth inadvertently made the worst case for the best league and the best case for the worst idea.
The EPL is done. It's over. The FA Cup and League Cup trophies are also there for the taking if City fancy picking up another domestic treble.
So interest in the rest of the season must come from a clique of continental giants, which sounds a lot like a template for a European super league.
Obviously, it's called the Champions League, but the prospect of City's only real opposition coming from just a couple of foreign clubs doesn't sound particularly appealing.
Paris Saint-Germain and the high-flying Kylian Mbappe are the leading candidates to stop City's hoarding of anything vaguely silver. Bayern Munich might also offer Teutonic resistance, but it's hard to see anyone else halting Guardiola's Quadruple charge.
Of course, this is the moment when the qualifiers must be rolled out. It's still only February. City have yet to win any of the four trophies on offer (though they are favourites for all of them).
Anything could happen. Injuries, upsets, bad weather, the ball is round and so forth.
Then think about poor Everton. The Toffees had a plan. Carlo Ancelotti had instructed them. Sit deep and launch the odd counter-attack. They were primed.
Just over 90 minutes later, City stepped over their opponents' entrails strewn across the Goodison Park pitch.
Nothing stops them. Nothing works. And even if there was a workable template for curtailing Guardiola's band of mischief-makers, their opponents are imploding faster than a Trump casino in Atlantic City.
Liverpool took too long to fix their central defence. Manchester United are too timid in attack. Leicester City are overachieving with a magnificent coach, Tottenham Hotspur are underachieving with a muddled coach and Chelsea are coming to grips with a new coach.
Guardiola's league leaders are not so much the last men standing as they are the only men standing.
In Europe, a similar scenario is playing out among the usual suspects. Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid are either toiling with ownership, coaching or playing personnel problems or all of the above.
The regular beacons of consistency, Bayern, are five points clear in the Bundesliga standings, but share City's defensive frailties from last season.
Their 3-3 draw against Arminia Bielefeld last weekend underlined their issues at centre-back. Niklas Suele is still trying to build a relationship with Lucas Hernandez that doesn't resemble a first Tinder date.
Five other Bundesliga clubs have a better defensive record than Bayern. City won't fear their back four.
But a young Frenchman is another otherworldly thing altogether.
The recent meeting between PSG and Barcelona felt like a coming together of a potential genius and one drifting to the periphery.
Lionel Messi seriously thought about joining City last year. Mbappe will be seriously thinking about beating them this year.
The Frenchman's pace, balance and unerring accuracy defined the art of a complete striker. He beat Barcelona on his own at times. He'll be eager to repeat the trick against City, perhaps with a recovered Neymar in support.
Both PSG and City are obsessed with winning the Champions League for the first time. Mbappe may prove the difference for both clubs.
A City Quadruple feels genuinely possible, but only if they catch the runaway prince of Paris.