Thursday, 26 August 2010

City 2 - 0 Timişoara

  • And on to the group stages with comfort. It might not sound like much of an achievement but it was more than Celtic, Aston Villa or Galatasaray could manage. Emotional returns for Georgios Samaras and Elano will have to wait. In truth, we got a gift of a draw. We will not come up against many sides as limited and unambitious as Timişoara this season. Almost the entire game was played in their half, and while we never played with too much cohesion we were as good as could have been expected given our line up. We just have to get our words out now; fluency can come later.
  • The line-up was as predicted, but with Jô out on the left of a 4-2-3-1. This allowed David Silva to play centrally, but with Timişoara playing another very compressed 4-1-4-1 there was barely a space for him to play in. He was forced to come increasingly deep for the ball - our side of their midfield five - while our best attacks came down the flanks. Shaun Wright-Phillips and Micah Richards often work well together down the right, while Pablo Zabaleta and Jô, Buenos Aires and São Paulo, linked well enough down the left. Zabaleta even put some decent crosses in with his left foot. But it was clear that Silva and Jô had barely played with these team-mates before, and while dominant in possession we looked unsure how to create chances.
  • It was a temporary tactical tweak that brought our first goal. Wright-Phillips was moved out onto the right, with Jô behind Adebayor and Silva on the right. With Shaun's crossing radar so askew it made sense to use him differently, cutting in from his weaker side onto his strong foot. This is how our goal came: he darted inside, running between the centre-backs and his fun was found by Patrick Vieira. With no pressure on him Vieira passed expertly and Wright-Phillips turned the ball inside the far post.
  • The lead was deserved, and it made the second half even easier. David Silva's move to wide positions made it easier for him to find space and he started to influence the game more. Our second goal came from a free kick of his swung to the back post and headed in by Dedryck Boyata. As Timişoara chased the game (they needed three to win) he started to drift inside and only fine margins prevented his scoring or creating a third on the night. As with the leg in Romania, we improved as the match went on, finally creating - if not taking - the chances that our dominance merited.
  • I wasn't expecting us to play like Barcelona tonight. This was another thrown-together team, with one Eastlands debutant and one returning prodigal son in the creative three. Faced with an opponent intent on preventing us from playing, we were never going to tear through them. But it was a controlled performance, and it achieved our aims with some comfort. We'll need more like in the group stage.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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