Thursday, April 25, 2024

FC Copenhagen 1-3 Manchester City: Talking points as Champions League holders gain first-leg advantage

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Manchester City will have a two-goal lead over FC Copenhagen to take to the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 at the Etihad after beating them in the first in Denmark by 1-3 on Tuesday evening.

Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring for City less than 10 minutes in, and Magnus Mattsson ignited the hopes of the home crowd by setting the score back level in the 34th. Bernardo Silva put his team back ahead in the 45th, and Phil Foden set the contest beyond Copenhagen two minutes into the stoppage time.

The game

Copenhagen should certainly be commended for getting past the group stage, and even the City faithful will have been pleased with the Danish side finishing above Manchester United in their group. However, this game was always going only one way and the first thing to say is that the scoreline actually flatters the home side in what was expectedly a very uneven contest.

City had the ball under their control for a whopping 79% of the time. They took a total of 27 shots, hitting the target 13 times, while Copenhagen fired just four times, only once within the frame of the goal. Nothing less was expected from last season’s treble winners against this opponent, with all due respect to Jacob Neestrup’s team. The only surprise was that City didn’t fully settle the contest much earlier than Foden’s 92nd-minute strike.

Frustration emerged among the home players towards the end, obviously caused by their inability to fight back against such a formidable opponent, and left-back Kevin Diks was very lucky to escape with a yellow card and avoid a straight red for a foul on Bernardo Silva in the 74th minute, just as lucky as Silva was to escape without an injury.

It feels rather unnecessary to say City deserved to win.

Kevin De Bruyne

De Bruyne suffered a serious hamstring injury on the opening day of the Premier League season, after just 23 minutes of City’s clash with Burnley at Turf Moor in mid-August. He spent five months on the sidelines, and only returned to action as a second-half substitute against Newcastle on January 13th. He entered the fray in the 69th minute, with his team 2-1 down, scored the equalizer, an assisted Oscar Bobb for a late winner at St. James’ Park.

The form of the 32-year-old Belgian since has been absolutely stunning, spelling very bad news for City’s rivals in all three competitions where they defend their trophies from last season. He now has nine goal involvements, two goals and seven assists, in eight matches played this year.

With the era of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo coming to an end, many talk about a potential rivalry between Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe, but not counting De Bruyne among the very best in the world would obviously be a big mistake.

Looking ahead

A relatively difficult period now starts for City. On Saturday, they have a potentially tricky match against Chelsea to win, then they welcome Brentford, the only team to have completed a double over Pep Guardiola’s side last season, and after they face Bournemouth in the league and Luton Town in the FA Cup, it’ll be time for the Manchester Derby against United whose form has recently picked up. After that comes the second leg against Copenhagen, four days before a potential title decider against Liverpool at Anfield.

Meanwhile, the season could have gone better so far for Copenhagen, who sit third in the Danish Superliga at the moment, one point behind second-place Brondby and three behind Midtjylland. Like City, they have a game against the league leaders coming soon, but before that, Neestrup’s team face Silkeborg and Nordsjaelland. After that, they will probably try to say farewell to their 2023/24 Champions League campaign in an honorable way by doing the best they can at the Etihad.


Veselin Trajkovic

Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.



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