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City 3 – Wigan 0 – Aguero, Silva Looking Like Bargains

 Posted by on September 10, 2011 at 11:39 pm  Uncategorized
Sep 102011

As opposed to the Spurs match, this one went EXACTLY as I expected it to. City looked the better side from start to finish, although I thought Wigan acquitted themselves well. They created a few chances, and I thought Victor Moses (who we almost landed around the same time we got Adam Johnson) and substitute Crusat were impressive. If I’m Roberto Martinez, Crusat walks into my starting lineup, probably at the expense of Di Santo, moving Rodallega to the center.

The gulf in class (and spending) was apparent from the start. Mancini elected to rest Dzeko but not Aguero, which was surprising considering he traveled to Bangladesh during the international break. Tevez, Aguero, Silva, and Adam Johnson started as the front four, and the build up play between them was superb. Tevez and Aguero were both pressing the back line, and as a result City dominated possession early on. Kompany went close off a corner, with Lescott clearing over the crossbar by accident. Then Tevez made a nice run down the left, cutting it back to Silva, who unselfishly passed to Aguero, who did well to let the ball run across his body before putting it in the bottom left corner in the 13th minute. It was just the start City were looking for, and were hoping to put the game out of reach early on. Just a few minutes later Silva won a penalty after a clumsy (and unnecessary) challenge by Lopez, and I thought it was all over. Tevez stepped up to take the penalty, and hit a weak shot to the left that was easily saved by Al Habsi. City had several more chances, including a fantastic move by Richards where Tevez made a brilliant pass to play him onside. Richards tried to chip the keeper, and hit the bottom of the crossbar. By halftime, it easily could’ve been 3-0 or 4-0, with Wigan creating a half chance or two, but nothing of significance.
In the second half, it was more of the same – a few decent spells for Wigan, sandwiched by great lengths of time where City dominated play. Nasri was the first sub by Mancini, who came on for Tevez with about a half hour to go. He couldn’t have been on the pitch for more than 90 seconds before David Silva laid a perfect ball off for him just outside the area. Nasri put the easiest of touches on it, leaving it right in Aguero’s path to get his second. It was Nasri’s 4th assist in about 91 minutes of play. Just 5 minutes later and it was Silva working his magic again to get away from 3 defenders, before playing a great through ball that left Aguero 1 on 1 with Al Habsi. Kun stayed incredibly composed, finishing in the bottom right corner, leaving Al Habsi with no real shot. Balotelli got his first 20 minutes of action, and Abdul Razak got a nice cameo, and City came away with 12 points from their first 4 matches.
The good: The link up play with Silva, Aguero, and Nasri looks like they’ve been playing together for years. I said it at the before the start of the season (before I took over this blog) – if Silva stays fit and is not on the list for POTY, I will be absolutely shocked. His close control and ability to weave through defenders to find the strikers is unmatched in England. The fact that he now has players at the level of Aguero, Nasri, and Dzeko to set up is going to make our attack formidable, even on the inevitable off day. Aguero’s finishing was also great to see – his three goals were all in the corner, where Al Habsi never could’ve gotten to them. Dzeko was able to be rested, and Razak was given ten minutes at the end, showing that Mancini has no problem brooding a few youngsters.
The bad: Defensively, we still shut off the concentration for brief moments. Wigan weren’t able to take advantage, but better teams will. I think Mancini made the right move taking the captaincy from Tevez – his next move should be to take the penalty taking responsibilities away as well. Tevez has never been a great penalty taker – he usually just blasts it to one side or the other, with no regard for placement or juking the keeper – but his last penalties (at the Copa America, and today) have been beyond poor. I haven’t seen Dzeko or Aguero take a penalty, but Balotelli is more than capable when he is on the pitch, and I’d imagine Aguero would do just fine. We are quickly becoming a team that doesn’t need to rely on Tevez to be successful, as opposed to last year, where he was our talisman, and we were at a distinct disadvantage when he wasn’t available.
I got to watch most of the first half of the Cesena – Napoli match today, and I think we’ll have our hands full on Wednesday. Napoli played 3 at the back in a 3-4-3 formation. They looked dangerous going forward, but also looked very open at the back. They got beat on the counter a few times, and they might be worse than City at defending corners. Cesena consistently was able to get free headers, though they couldn’t put any on target. I’d expect to see our strongest possible lineup – something like what we started with at Spurs, Barry’s fitness pending. If he’s out, I’d expect Milner to slot right in.
It should be a great match, and a great atmosphere. Champions League was always step 3 of the Manchester City project – now we just have to get through the group stages.
Because the games are coming so quickly over the next few weeks, I’ll be doubling up on subjects as I post. I’ll be back later in the week to review the Napoli match, preview Sunday’s Fulham match, and hopefully post a few thoughts on our first NextGen match against Barcelona. It’ll be interesting to see how we match up at the youth level, because I feel like our roster has improved leaps and bounds in the last two years in that area.

Preview: Meet Los Blancos

 Posted by on July 23, 2011 at 4:49 am  Uncategorized
Jul 232011
The Philadelphia Union will head down to the Linc to host Real Madrid Saturday at 9:00pm.  Real Madrid has an impressive history, let’s take a look at it:

Real Madrid Notes:
Nickname: Los Blancos
League: Spain’s La Liga
Located: Madrid, Spain
Founded: 1902
Stadium: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu (Capacity is 80,354)

Real Madrid Accomplishments:

Within Spain:
La Liga Championships: 31
La Liga Runners Up: 21
Copa del Rey Championships: 18
Copa del Rey Runners Up: 19

Within Europe:
UEFA Champions League Championships: 9 (Latest in 2001-02)
UEFA Europa League Championships: 2 (Latest in 1985-86)
UEFA Super Cups: 1 (2002)

Random Real Madrid History Notes:

- Real Madrid won the first ever European Championship – way back in 1955-56.

- They continued that trend by winning the most UEFA Champions Leagues Championships – 9.

- They also have won Spain’s top division, La Liga, a record 31 times (10 more times than Barcelona).

- Raul is the team’s all-time leading goal scorer (323) as well as having the most appearances (741).

- There are just too many all-time greats for me to run a list here…

Notes on the game:

What can be said about the current Real Madrid squad? Their roster talent top to bottom is as strong as any other club in the world – and yes, that includes Barcelona. Since landing in the US a little over a week ago, Los Blancos have made both the LA Galaxy and Chivas Guadalajara look silly. Cristiano Ronaldo has been lights out, scoring four goals in their two matches and definitely not afraid to take guys on. Their flow moving the ball has been as good as mid-season form, which does not bode well for any of their preseason opponents. 

Philadelphia actually matches up much better with Real Madrid than the Galaxy – when talking about the starting 11s.  A big factor is that the Union defenders are much more speed oriented.  This should help limit Real’s chances more than big physical defenders like Omar Gonzalez.  The Galaxy also use piercing through balls to penetrate defenses, while the Union play a shorter, more controlled passing game – which should help against a Spanish side that rarely gives the ball up. 

All that being said, I still cannot in-vision a situation where the Union coming away with a win in this one.  With Madrid’s ability to possess it, they will be in control of play pretty much throughout.  While the youth looked fantastic when stepping up against Everton, Real Madrid is a whole different story.  The first half will remain tight, but Madrid will eventually break thru in the second, winning by a 3-1 scoreline.
Video of Real Madrid’s Champions League History