Published on November 3rd, 2015 | by Daniel Cheeseman0
Sevilla 1-3 Manchester City | Daniel Cheeseman
“A Masterclass in Europe!”
We’ve been lucky enough to see several outstanding performances from the Blues already this season, and while they were all great in their own right – for me Tuesday’s win against Sevilla was particularly special.
Since they first appeared in the modern era of the European Cup back in 2011, the club have certainly come a long, long way. At the beginning they were very naive and lacked strength in depth compared to most other teams in the competition, but in Spain and other games this season we’ve seen a reincarnated City side that look mature and more than capable of progressing to the latter stages of the tournament.
It’s always been a bit of a mystery as to why City haven’t quite cut it in the Champions League, especially considering how well they play in the Premier League, but I’m starting to accept that it’s simply down to a lack of experience – not quality. On paper, the starting 11 we played against Sevilla was one of the weaker sides we’ve fielded this season, but the fact that they all worked for each other and played as a team meant that it didn’t really matter.
In the Premier League it tends to be that there’s a few teams every year who have the best players and they’re the ones who do well, whereas in the Champions League the fact that most teams are already full of quality (hence why they’re in the competition), it’s usually teamwork that prevails. The best example of this was the Juventus game last month; we didn’t lose that game because the Italians have better players than us, but rather because they defended extremely well as a unit and came to the Etihad with a game plan. But if the two games against Sevilla are anything to go off, it looks like the Blues have learnt from their mistakes and will hopefully give the Italians a much better game in Turin.
I know I’ve talked a lot about teamwork already in this blog, but it’s still worth discussing certain individual performances – as there were several players who deserved an 8+/10 rating.
Fernandinho was my Man of the Match once again – but while the Brazilian has been sublime all season, I thought his performance on Tuesday was a step up even for him. If you ask me, he’s slowly becoming one of the box-to-box midfielders in world football – he scores goals, creates goals and defends with fantastic commitment. Suddenly the £30m we paid for him is looking like an absolute bargain.
At first I had my doubts about Manuel Pellegrini’s choice to drop Kevin de Bruyne, but when you consider how many games he’s played recently I suppose he’s due a bit of a rest. But while I’d still have preferred him to play, I actually think it might have had a positive side effect in that we seemed to be a bit quicker going forward.
I’m not saying that dropping him is always the right choice, but in this particular game I think it probably ended up being a good decision because of how much Sevilla like to retain possession – meaning that we could be much more effective on the counter attack. Which brings me onto my final point…
Raheem Sterling and Jesus Navas were magnificent on the flanks – I’d go as far as saying it was their best games for the club. When those two make use of their lightning pace there’s very little the opposition’s defence can do about it, but the fact that they also very rarely gave away possession (which is something they’ve both been heavily criticized for in the past) it made life even worse for Unai Emery’s side.
Isn’t it exciting to think that City can play at that standard even without the help of David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and Kevin de Bruyne (for the most part)? It makes you wonder what they’d be playing like with a fully fit squad – but considering how injury prone our players are, that might have to just remain a dream for now!
As always, I’m very much looking forward to the game on Sunday, but it’d be very easy to get over-confident with it being bottom-of-the-table Aston Villa. In his post-match interview on Tuesday night, Vincent Kompany stated that not being complacent was a reason why they played so well against Sevilla – so let’s hope those words have meaning and that they do the same this weekend!