Thursday, 18 December 2008

Racing 3 - 1 City

  • The most important thing was to win the group - something we did comfortably. PSG went two ahead early on and never looked like letting it go. This is genuinely important to our future UEFA Cup progress. We now get one of Olympiakos, Sampdoria, NEC Nijmegen, Braga, Niclas Jensen's Copenhagen and Lech Poznan. Had PSG not won, we'd have faced one of Marseille, Bordeaux, Werder Bremen, Dinamo Kiev, Aalborg, Zenit St Petersburg, Fiorentina or Shakhtar. So in a very meaningful sense, we had a successful evening.
  • On the pitch though, we were really poor. It was the worst failure to keep the ball in midfield since the Everton game, or PSG, or the derby. We improved with the introduction of Ireland and Kompany, but the whole point of squad depth is that shouldn't always have to be bailed out by your best players. Fernandes, Hamann and Elano is not a midfield trio we should deploy again in a hurry.

  • The first half was as poorly as we've played all season. The defence was lazy, slow and comical. Ben Haim and Richards have not improved their communication since the West Ham game back in August when they went for the same header and Richards went off in a next brace being fed oxygen. They were torn apart for the second goal, and could have been sharper for the first and third. In midfield we were wholly dominated: Fernandes chased the ball, Hamann did not even have the legs to do that. Up front we offered nothing - the only chance being Garrido's freekick over the bar.
  • Robinho's form and fitness has to be a major worry going into the relegation six pointer with West Brom (for that is what it is) on Sunday. He hasn't shone since his great performance against Arsenal on November 22nd. He missed the Schalke game with injury, played in the derby, visibly unfit and ineffective, then missed the Fulham and PSG games. He was no better today than he was against Everton last weekend. We have three huge games coming up: West Brom, Hull and Blackburn. If we are to maximise our chances of success, we need Robinho to recover his form and fitness fast.
  • Another problem will be deciding who to play up front. Ched Evans worked hard today (he always does), but did not seem to cause the Racing defenders many problems. Caicedo was more of a threat, admittedly with the help of his fresh legs (his first competitive minutes since Brighton in September remember). Evans could have played his way into a start on Sunday, but did not. We'll have to wait and see whether Sturridge and Jo recover, but if they do not, how about a Robinho, Vassell, SWP front line?

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