Thursday, 18 September 2008

AC Omonia preview

If City want to attract the players in January that the papers have been linking them with, they need to be playing in Europe, even if it is in the Uefa Cup. So the importance of this game can't be downplayed, and two things tell us it won't be easy.

The first thing is the experience of the Midtjylland game, where City were minutes away from embarassingly going out. The second is that AC Omonia beat AEK Athens over two legs to get this far; which sounds like a much better achievement than currently being top of their domestic league.

Midtjylland told us that rotation, although sometimes necessary, must be done with caution to avoid a disaster. In fact, the first leg's strike partnership of Sturridge and Caicedo wasn't as Benitez as you might think, with so many strikers injured. But the temptation to play the Garridos, Gelsons and now Elanos pining for a start must be resisted, because this team are not a walking three points. Perhaps more importantly, they must be an unknown quantity to Hughes and his staff.

With caution in mind, City must keep their Premier League back five. Pablo Zabaleta was unconvincing on Saturday but the only way he will improve is by putting minutes under his belt. As always, things get more interesting in midfield. Kompany will almost certainly play, and his central midfield partner will be probably either Gelson or Hamann, given the doubts over Johnson's fitness. Hamann offers experience, technique and ball retention. Gelson, who has the edge because of his fitness, offers energy and enthusiasm.

Martin Petrov has not travelled to Cyprus - he has a hamstring injury. Wright-Phillips and Robinho deserve starts, leaving a final midfield berth to be fought out between Elano and Ireland. Ireland's tenacity means he can play in a midfield three if required, whereas Elano may fall behind in these UEFA Cup away games because there is only room for one exceptionally lazy player.

Hughes' preview has been typically uninteresting. See how many cliches you can spot.
It's not a game that we're going to take lightly in any way, shape or form.
They're a very good side and we won't underestimate them. We won't make
assumptions that this game is going to be an easy game for us, we know it's far
from that, it's a difficult tie for us. We had a similar situation in the last
round as well, so we're primed to understand that there's no easy games.

There'll be a really vociferous crowd as well that we'll have to
deal with. They've had a great start to the season and got a great result in the
last round. They have good, talented individuals and they work extremely hard as
a team. It's a challenge to us and we have everything to lose while Omonia have
everything to gain.

1 comment:

Don said...

You are more down on Elano with each subsequent post! What gives?