Roma 0 Man City 2: Three talking points as the Citizens progress
Three talking points as Manchester City book their place in the last 16 of the Champions League
City lucky to be in the last 16
It has been another one of those campaigns in the Champions League for Manchester City. There lower seeding dictates that they often get drawn in difficult groups. However, for a team that spends vast sums of money on players every summer, it still remains a mystery as to why they struggle so much. There seems to be an element of fear and you sense that when City play at the Etihad Stadium. The nervous energy from the players is reflected in the fans who also seem subdued – almost like they feel as though they don’t belong. This is hard to explain considering that City have players that are vastly experienced. World-class players like Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and David Silva could play for any team in Europe. They have been fortunate to get through the group after plenty of indifferent performances. But now that they are in the last 16, they have a chance of redemption. They can finally prove that they deserve their place in Europe’s elite competition.
But most teams will still want to avoid them in the next round
It hasn’t quite clicked into gear for City this season but they have the ability to blow teams away. They were absolutely sensational against Southampton, especially as they were down to ten men for the last 20 minutes. They also did well to beat Bayern Munich in their last Champions League match showing great spirit to come from behind. Other teams will know what City’s capabilities are when they play to full potential. In the game today they were without Kompany, Yaya Toure and Aguero. Yet they still managed to win the game. Fernando and Fernandinho were excellent as they gave good protection to the defence. Whenever Roma’s creative players tried to get involved, the Brazilians would shift across denying the space. They would also be quick to try and close their opponents down. Behind them Eliaquim Mangala and Martin Demichelis barely made a mistake. Most teams in Europe will want to avoid drawing City in the next round as even without their best players, they have the ability to beat any side.
Gervinho has re-invented himself at Roma
Before moving to Arsenal in 2011, Gervinho made his name at Lille. He was known for his fearless dribbling, direct football and goal-scoring abilities. But when he joined Arsenal he became a shell of his former self. Confidence deserted him as he missed numerous chances, and eventually the fans started to turn on him. Arsene Wenger also lost faith in him but during the summer of 2013, Roma gave him a chance to rebuild his career. Since moving to the Giallorossi, he has scored 16 goals in 46 appearances, that is four more than his time at Arsenal. Against City we saw more glimpses of a player that is clearly in form. The Ivorian was deployed as a ‘false nine’ and gave Roma an option when they looked to transition from defence to attack. Radja Nainggolan and Miralem Pjanic would try and look for him with a long ball over the top, this allowed Gervinho to exploit his superior pace. He also demonstrated his dribbling abilities, on quite a few occasions he drove straight at the heart of the defence and in one circumstance it took a great tackle from Eliaquim Mangala to deny him as he looked to have a strike on goal. He can still be unpredictable, there is also still a rawness to his game and his decision making can be questionable. These are things he will hope to improve as the season progresses.