Manchester City recorded a creditable 2-2 draw at PSG on Wednesday night in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. City showed their terrible lack of defensive nous, whilst looking very dangerous on the counter-attack.
The game perfectly summed-up Manchester City and their campaign so far, as they displayed the good and bad aspects of their game.
A 2-2 draw at PSG could prove to be a very good result for the Citizens. Those two away goals could prove decisive in this tie.
The good aspects
Manchester City have often looked devoid of attacking ideas this season and it has contributed to the Citizens currently battling just to preserve a place in the Champions League next season, never mind challenging for the Premier League title.
However, one of the key reasons for City’s recent struggles has been the absence through injury of Belgian playmaker Kevin De Bruyne. The former-Chelsea star missed seven Premier League games and in that period the Citizens dropped out of the title race.
The 24-year-old provides that extra guile and cutting edge from his attacking midfield role that City missed during his absence. De Bruyne has played twice since returning from injury and scored twice, including in the draw in Paris.
When De Bruyne plays he gives City another dimension, so the Citizens can hit teams on the break with the pace of De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero as well.
The pair displayed a very good understanding at the Parc de Princes, which if it were not for injuries may have proved even more fruitful this season. De Bruyne offers Aguero that quality support that he has been crying out for this season.
Spanish playmaker David Silva has not hit his top form in recent months, so the Belgian is even more important to City for the remainder of the campaign.
Another positive aspect for City was the return to fitness of Joe Hart. City’s first choice keeper produced a fine penalty save from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which could crucial in the tie. The England number one is without doubt head and shoulders (see what I did there!) above number two Willy Caballero in terms of quality.
The bad aspects
Now to the bad aspects, let’s face it this is Manchester City and they never do anything the easy way. The keystone cops moment between Hart and Fernando summed-up City’s incapability of defending this season.
Hart kicked out to Fernando, who attempted to turn, only for the Brazilian to kick the ball against Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the ball roll into the back of the City net. It was the sort of incident that has been all too common for City this season.
When captain Vincent Kompany does not play, the Citizens seem to lose any sort of defensive shape. The Belgium international has been plagued by injuries this season and City have badly missed his influence in the centre of defence.
The City defence did not exactly cover themselves in glory for the second PSG goal either, as Adrien Rabiot was left unmarked at the far post to fire home. When Pep Guardiola arrives in the summer he will definitely be looking at strengthening his backline.
Not only are a number of City’s defenders aging, but some are not good enough for the level that City are striving for.
A fantastic opportunity to make the semi-finals
Manchester City have already made history this season by making the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time. The Citizens head into next week’s second leg at the Etihad 6/4 favourites to make it to the last four of Europe’s elite competition.
Their progression will depend on whether the good aspects of their performance outweigh the bad. The Citizens have been very poor this season in some games, but have also shown glimpses of what they can do on their day.
The tie seems set-up for City to go and seize the moment. They are at home and have two away goals. Manuel Pellegrini’s side have a major advantage over their French opponents.
Despite the advantage being theirs, Manchester City and as we all know they never do anything the easy way, so I expect the Citizens to make next Tuesday night a very nervy one for their fans.
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