Saturday, 24 July 2010

City 0 - 2 Sporting

  • Our dreams of winning the Barclay's New York Football Challenge were in tatters this morning after a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Sporting Lisbon. They tore us apart in a very one-sided first half, as Yannick Djalo twice escaped Micah Richards to score for Sporting. Our diamond midfield never looked close to functioning. That said, we changed and improved in the second half, and we're still five friendlies away from White Hart Lane.
  • The first half was not exactly a triumph. We were lined up in a 4-4-2 diamond, in accordance with a rumour from the News of the World last week. Patrick Vieira was at the base, Adam Johnson at the tip, with Pablo Zabaleta and Stephen Ireland shuttling either side. It was woeful. Johnson has his strengths but is no trequartista and barely got on the ball. Ireland, who is a natural No. 10, drifted into Johnson's position and influenced play when there. But too often Patrick Vieira - looking as sluggish and ponderous as he did last season - was isolated and overmanned in midfield. In the first twenty minutes he lumbered into two tackles that would have got him yellow cards in a competitive match. Sporting's movement, however, was excellent. Carlos Saleiro and Helder Postiga dragged our defence across the pitch, while Yannick Djalo and Simon Vukčević exploited the gaps.
  • With Sporting so dominant, it was no surprise when we went behind. Zabaleta gave the ball away in midfield, and Vukčević ran at Greg Cunningham. He sold him the cheapest dummy - coming back onto his left foot - and crossed to Djalo. Micah Richards was characteristically inattentive at the far post and Djalo headed home. They added a second just before half time. Our defence was sucked up towards Carlos Saleiro, who chipped the ball into the gap to Djalo running between Richards and Kompany, who rounded Hart to score his second. Again, their movement manipulated our team like dough - think England v Germany in Bloemfontein.
  • There was a change at half-time, and a subsequent improvement. We moved to a rough 4-4-1-1, with Craig Bellamy behind Jô, Ireland starting on the left - but drifting further in as the match went on - and Johnson on the right. This gave us better shape and allowed us to press Sporting more effectively. We were harder to play through and even came close to creating chances of our own, all due to Ireland taking up his favoured positions behind the strikers.
  • But Ireland went off and with Alex Nimely playing behind Jô, and Craig Bellamy out on the left, we looked fairly short of attacking ideas. Then John Guidetti and Andrew Tutte came on - which was good to see - and we held on and saw the game out. It wasn't a great second half as a spectacle, but we played better. Wayne Bridge introduced a degree of competence down the left, while Ireland and Johnson playing their natural games brought a touch more attacking coherence to the side. Nimely had some excellent touches. The lack of chance creation might be a concern, but remember - we did have Jô leading the line for seventy minutes.

1 comment:

Adam said...

If we played a diamond and then 4-4-1-1, why was Ireland out on the left and Johnson/Bellamy behind the main striker?

If I were Ireland, I would be pretty wound up with Mancini. It can't be long before he's off somewhere else.