Man City: Yaya Shows He's Ready For Fellaini & Nasri Finally Steps Up
It’s been a long time coming, but Manchester City finally delivered a Champions League performance to write home about. In one fell swoop City have scored the same number of goals as we managed put together in the entire competition last campaign and the fans will be confident that this year we will progress beyond the group stages. While that is surely the minimum requirement, let’s not forget it’s more than the club have ever achieved in our history.
OK, so we shouldn’t get too carried away just yet. This was Plzen, not Bayern. While obviously keen and with a vocal support, their footballing ability was relatively limited. They attacked with gusto in the first half without ever really creating anything of note, while City were lethargic but created chances. After the second half that followed it feels harsh to criticise, but on another day the litany of missed chances might have been punished, certainly by a better side.
The second half was another matter entirely and the opening fifteen minutes saw a City performance as good as any in recent memory. With their tails up and boosted by the tonic of an early goal, City ripped apart Plzen and notched three on the board. It should have been considerably more by the end, but three goals and a clean sheet away from home is never to be sniffed at.
The return of Vincent Kompany feels like a huge boost for the team. Although clean sheets have been recorded against Stoke and Hull, it was more down to the opposition strikers’ incompetence as opposed to a decent defence. Here, Kompany slotted straight back into the heart of defence and gave an assured performance that galvanised those around him. Nastasic looks twice the player with the captain by his side, while even Kolarov managed to put in a decent performance.
With the derby upcoming at the weekend it was hugely enjoyable to see Yaya Toure grab the game by the scruff of the neck - something he'll need to do against Fellaini on Sunday - in the second half and control the tempo. He was at the centre of the team’s quick breaks and looked dangerous on the edge of the box. Just how dangerous was made clear by his stunning finish for the second, killer goal. How much are City fans hoping for another one of those at the weekend…
Alongside him, Samir Nasri played his part and was one of the few to truly impress in the first half. This was exactly the sort of game that can see the Frenchman go missing but although things weren’t going City’s way he stood up to be counted. His touch and eye for a pass on the break provided our most telling threat for most of the game. Sergio Aguero looked back to his best up front and could have had a hat-trick. Instead he had to settle for a single, beautifully-taken goal that was considerably harder to score than it looked.
If there are any negatives to be taken from the game, and negatives is too harsh a word, it would be found in the first half when Plzen found space too often and should have created more. The key to City’s second half dominance could be found in the early goals and in Fernandinho’s reversal in fortunes. After a tricky first half he settled into the game and quietly went about his business, making a number of key interceptions and feeding the ball to a more attacking option. Hopefully this will be a performance to build on for the Brazilian who has struggled with his consistency so far.
The squandering of chances by Dzeko, and a couple from Aguero may be another slight blemish on the performance, and it would have been nice to add to the goal difference slightly. But let’s not be too hard on them. After no wins in the entire campaign last season, we shouldn’t be getting too greedy. Sterner tests will come in the coming weeks however, and it will be fascinating to see how the team cope against first United and then Bayern. Hold onto your hats – it’s about to get exciting.
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