Thursday, 28 November 2013

Manchester City 4 - 2 Viktoria Plzeň: Thoughts and Ratings

By Jack Mumford

A 4-2 win in the Champions League should never be a disappointment but that was the general feeling at the Etihad Stadium last night.

Obviously with City already being through and Bayern’s earlier victory in Moscow, the Blues would have to get an unlikely win 3-0 in the Allianz Arena - resulting in this game being a dead rubber. 

Manuel Pellegrini made seven changes to the side that dismantled Tottenham and I went to the Etihad expecting fringe players like Edin Džeko and Joleon Lescott attempt to stake their claim for a future starting berth. 

Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

However, against much weaker opposition many of these players looked like they had found their level or were suffering from a lack of motivation. In truth, the players that impressed most were those who are already regulars. Samir Nasri, Sergio Agüero and Fernandinho seemed to drag the rest of the team kicking and screaming through the match.

The one exception to this was Joe Hart, who having not played since November 2 seemed eager for it. He should have really been expecting a quiet night but due to the hapless defence in front of him he was forced into several brilliant saves. The England goalkeeper’s highlight was a tip over the bar halfway through the second half when Plzeň appeared to be getting on top of the game. Hart’s general handling was safe and he tried to do the right things with his distribution the majority of the time.

A major positive for me was the fact Jesús Navas now appears to be brimming with confidence and he showed in his 45 minutes on the pitch that his sterling Spurs performance was not just a flash in the pan.

Welsh midfielder Emyr Huws earned himself a place on the bench but didn’t get on to make his City debut. Huws has many similarities to Gareth Barry and he is one that I have thought could actually make the grade at the club, so it was nice to see his name involved.

City started slower than their Czech opponents and could have been 2-0 down when Agüero put City ahead from the penalty spot. Several of the players involved have confirmed to Pellegrini that he is currently picking the best team he can for the big matches.

Now we have an enjoyable trip to the Allianz Arena to look forward to and with City likely to finish second in the group we have a daunting list of potential opponents in the knockout rounds of the Champions League. 

Who would you pick out of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, PSG and maybe Borussia Dortmund? Any one of them would certainly prove to be an exciting tie. Let us know below!

Player ratings

HART: This was a fantastic return for the out of favour goalkeeper. He was forced into too many saves for City fans liking but dealt with them all superbly. Absolutely no blame for either of the Plzen goals.

TSBV rating: 8/10 

RICHARDS: A performance as enthusiastic as ever from Micah but he still looks slightly sluggish compared to his pre-injury form and seems to be struggling to regain on the ball ability and positional sense.

TSBV rating: 5/10 

DEMICHELIS: His worst appearance in a City shirt so far. He was made to look slow by a fairly modest Plzen attack and often appears to lack communication with other defenders.

TSBV rating: 5/10

LESCOTT: Joleon wants to get back into the regular starting line-up but he won’t playing like this. He was left exposed quite a few times by Kolarov but didn’t appear commanding enough to lead a defence.

TSBV rating: 5/10

KOLAROV: As always he was eager to get forward and still provided several dangerous crosses but he simply switches off in defence. Plzen had most of their joy down their right wing and almost appeared to target Kolarov.

TSBV rating: 5/10

MILNER: Hard working and efficient whenever he goes on to a football pitch but it is easy to see why Milner can’t get in the starting line-up as he simply can’t offer what Nasri, Silva or Navas can on the ball. However his cross for Džeko’s late header was impossible to defend.

TSBV rating: 6/10

GARCIA: Made the best out of a poor free kick early on and rarely misplaces his passes but yet again the game seemed to bypass him, as did several of the Plzen midfielders.

TSBV rating: 6/10

FERNANDINHO: Almost irreplaceable in the City team now as someone who can break up opposition attacks but also has the drive to have a genuine positive influence on the game. Taken off in the second half for a well-deserved rest.

TSBV rating: 7/10

NASRI: City’s major bright spark on the night. Currently enjoying his best run of form at the Etihad and barely a minute seems to pass where Nasri hasn’t been on the ball for City. Took his goal well to cap off his performance.

TSBV rating: 8/10

AGUERO: A surprise inclusion given the amount of football he has had recently. A constant livewire and goal threat who gets the crowd on their feet when he gets the ball. Chased Plzen defenders hard and earned the penalty before being given a rest at half time.

TSBV rating: 8/10

DZEKO: Should have taken his big chance to impress the manager and fans but instead appeared focused on sulking around the pitch and shooting on sight as if he was playing for himself. His late goal was brilliantly taken, which makes him an even more frustrating player.

TSBV rating: 5/10


NAVAS: This has been his breakthrough week at City. Now has the confidence he appeared to be lacking in his first months at City and is willing to beat his full back and constantly whip in dangerous balls. 2 more assists for him in crossing Nasri’s and Negredo’s goals.

TSBV rating: 8/10

YAYA TOURE: Showed a few touches of true class in his short time on the pitch especially for the second goal. Got a well-earned rest in the middle of this busy schedule.

TSBV rating: 7/10

NEGREDO: A true fan’s favourite already and should be the model for Džeko with his work rate that accompanies his goal tally. Only a tap-in last night but you have to be there to score it.

TSBV rating: 7/10

Note: All pictures above from MCFC Official Facebook page

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(c) The Sky Blue View 2013

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