Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Midtjylland preview

In amongst all the transfer excitement - as I type this Guillem Balague has claimed that Zabaleta is '90%' done and Corluka will be leaving - it is easy not to give sufficient thought to tomorrow's match. But the game in Denmark will be definitive to this season: regarding our schedule, our cashflow and our attractiveness to transfer targets.

I'm moderately confident. We've slowly improved in the past few weeks: poor in the first leg, mixed at Villa Park and then good against West Ham. But I know that we will need to continue this progress tomorrow to get past a well organised side. Sunday's match will have been instructive in terms of teaching patience. Just before Sturridge scored, frustration was growing at our inability to break down inferior opposition. Rather than panic, we trusted our quality and the win came easily.

As Danny at Bitter and Blue wrote, 'the ghosts of Groclin past still lurk ominously'. To have got ourselves into the UEFA Cup this year, to have assembled a squad which may be capable of achieving something in Europe, and then to piss it all away would be a perfect encapsulation of the 'typical City' mentality that Cook is so keen to eradicate.

The team is rather complicated by the return of Richards. Had he been unavailable, Dunne could have replaced him to play alongside Ben Haim at centre back, thus delaying the solution to our surplus of quality defenders. Richards could conceivably be fit and rested, but otherwise we may see either Ben Haim at left back, or Richards himself replace the potentially outgoing Corluka at right back.

Vincent Kompany is ineligible, having not been registered before the tie's first leg. He could be replaced by either Gelson Fernandes or Didi Hamann. The experience of Hamann could be vital, but I fear that, having turned 35 on Wednesday, he does not have the legs for 90 minutes. Perhaps the enthusiasm of Fernandes from the start to ensure a high-tempo opening, giving way to the more patient and subtle Hamann later on? The rest of the midfield: Petrov, Johnson and Ireland ought to stay the same.

We do not know definitively on Jô's fitness yet. Hughes seems inclined to start him if he can, meaning an unfortunate demotion for Danny Sturridge. Elano will surely continue in his second striker role which I feared Hughes would abolish. I understand the wish to pair the Brazilians up front together, but if Jô is not up to speed I see no real point in breaking up the partnership which put three past West Ham.

1 comment:

Martin said...

ok, theres about 20 mins or so left of this 'game', its 0 - 0, we're playing like a complete bunch of fucking arseholes. it just doesnt make sense. we let them come at us, win the ball, give it back to them, then let them attack us again. this game has been a fucking disgrace. ireland looks like a blind retard, the formation has no consistancy, and weve squandered every single chance weve had in their half. same shit as the home leg; long balls straight to the opposition every time we get the ball. the danes must thinking ' who are these shitcunts? are they really premiership?'. i feel sickend and embarrassed by this farce of a game. if the score remains the same we only have ourselves to blame. what a pile of shite. european competition thrown away. wankers.