Article by Jake Hartley
City eased into the group stages of the Europa League on Thursday evening after dominating the entire 90 minutes against the Romanian side, FC Timisoara. City will now face Italian giants, Juventus, Austrian side, FC Salzburg and Polish side, Lech Poznan in Group A.
City looked comfortable from the outset at the City of Manchester stadium as they dominated possession and never really gave Timisoara a chance to cause a huge upset. Roberto Mancini brought in 7 changes from the side that overcame Liverpool 3-0 on Monday night. Great players like Adebayor, Silva and Zabaleta were recalled to form a very strong side despite the absences of players like Tevez, Yaya Toure and Milner.
Timisoara tried to keep the scoreline as low as possible by having 9 men behind the ball when City attacked, leaving the lone Timisoara frontman to wait for his side to snatch the ball away from the Blues. It was one of those changes that gave City the lead at the end of the first half. A patient and well worked move from City resulted in the veteran, Patrick Vieira sliding a perfectly weighted pass in between the Timisoara defence to release Shaun Wright-Phillips.
The lively winger struck the ball early to leave the keeper rooted to the spot and watch the ball nestle in the corner of the net. City’s dominance continued throughout the second half with Silva and Adebayor guilty of missing one on one chances to increase the blues lead.
The game was put beyond Timisoara’s reach when Silva flighted a free-kick to the back post for the impressive Boyata to head home his first City goal in front a small crowd who instead of waiting for City to get to the latter stages of the competition, turned up to witness a comfortable 2-0 victory.
David Silva was handed his first home start of the season by Roberto Mancini and looked lively especially in the 2ndhalf. He was zipping around the Timisoara backline trying to find spaces to slot through balls for Adebayor, Jo and Shaun Wright-Phillips. Many of his through balls didn’t always come off for the tiny Spaniard, but you can see that the intelligence is there and in time, he will be laying on opportunity after opportunity for the City players.
I think it may be a while before we see the best of Silva as he attempts to settle into the English culture, but once he finds his feet in the Premier League, he will be like a conductor with the ball supplying the orchestra to do the business.
First time goalscorer, Dedryck Boyata had a very impressive game at the heart of the City defence alongside his National idol, Vincent Kompany. The 19 year old, centre half may have come up against a poor attacking unit, but, whenever Timisoara looked like they could cause our defence a problem, Boyata was there. He used his pace to catch up to Timisoara attackers, he used his strength to muscle them off the ball and retain possession for City and he used his aerial ability to win numerous aerial battles and even grab himself his first City goal.
I remember being very worried about Mancini including this lad in the Carling Cup side to face Manchester United, as I thought his inexperience would be exploited by the likes of Rooney and Co, but I can see why Mancini rates him so highly, he defiantly has the attributes to be a top class defender in time.
I worry alot about City and Mancini’s decisions, especially after he signed Patrick Vieira from Inter Milan in January. Although, Vieira won’t be able to put in great performances every week in the Premier League, he can produce crucial performances for us in the Europa League, when the match is at a slower pace to suit the ageing Frenchman.
Last night, Vieira was very impressive in central midfield alongside defensive terrier, Nigel De Jong. Vieira was constantly finding players with his accurate passing and even unlocked the stubborn Timisora defence for Shaun Wright-Phillips to open the scoring. I realise that we were playing a Romanian side equivalent to a Championship/league 1 side in this country, but I still believe Vieira can shine in Europe this season.
I was fairly unhappy with the performance of £18 million striker, Jo last night. He was played out wide on the left of a front three and failed to impact the game in any way. He had a glorious chance to score in the first half, but headed straight at the busy Timisoara goalkeeper and his overall game just isn’t up to scratch.
His first touch often sees the ball bouncing away from him and I just can’t see why Mancini is sticking with him. Unfortunately, I can see Jo being in the 25 man squad that the Premier League requires this season and hope that he proves me wrong when Mancini decides to play him. What do you think of Jo ?
All in all, there were some very positive performances from the City players last night, but there will be sterner tests for us as we progress in the competition. Mancini has stated that he believes we can win the competition and I hope were there competing in the Final in Dublin on the 18th of May.