Ready For Juventus?
Since the win against Chelsea on Saturday, the Vital lines look to have been cut, or maybe my esteemed colleagues are still speechless.
The Europa League match against Juventus tomorrow seems to have crept upon us and like many City fans I relish the thought of one of Europe's biggest footballing names heading to Eastlands.
I still have vivid memories of the team that faced us in 1976, when fresh from winning our last trophy we were matched against the Old Lady of Turin in the first round.
I recall being unable to believe what I was watching as the great names of Gentile, Cuccuredu, Tardelli, Causio and Bettega played 'pass the yellow card', by committing unreal numbers of foul tackles until they were cautioned, when they passed the baton on to the next player. Our 1-0 win at home was overcome by a 2-0 defeat away and out we went.
Times have changed immensely for the two teams who will square up tomorrow night. City search desperately for a piece of silverware whereas the Juve cabinet has been bursting at the seems.
Now we have a Club in revivial, bursting at the seems with money, playing a Club in revivial having suffered the ignominy of being relegated for match fixing. Two teams on the up?
This is a match City cannot afford to take lightly. Juve have retained excellent footballers such as Del Piero, Chiellini and Buffon, the last two of which have been linked with the Eastlands revolution. Del Piero might be classed as past his best but he still finds his way onto the scoresheet with regularity. Buffon is clearly capable of keeping out the best and I rate Chiellini, a robust, strongman in defence.
That said a resurgent City destroyed the Premier League favourites, Chelsea over the weekend and once again the expectations of the South Stand are at roof level and nothing short of a repeat performance and repeat result will do tomorrow.
It is said in many places that Mancini has adopted the Italian style of keeping clean sheets and scoring on the break, whilst remaining solid in midfield and lively when we go forward. So tomorrow is about City imposing themselves on the game and inviting Juventus to worry about us. With that in mind and as none of the injured players, with the possible exception of Boateng look to have made sufficient progress, I would go with the same team that started on Saturday and try to boss the game in the same way. If Kompany can keep Del Piero in his place and Tevez can cause discomfort to Chiellini, the midfielders should be able to carry the day and ensure that the Blues get the win they need to almost stamp their passport out of the group.
Again it gives us the option of Johnson coming on for the last half hour to torment them wide out and again it gives us the choice of changing style by introducing Adebayor. I have no problem with Mancini electing to play Boyata at full back.
I would be expecting City to keep a clean sheet tomorrow because I believe we are capable of doing that, denying them space and marking tightly. I do not think they can keep us out unless they literally park the bus and play for a 0-0 draw, which I suppose would be good result for them.
We owe Juventus one for the bruises to the players and the mental scars left to the fans after the match in 1976 (didn't Juventus go on to win the trophy that season). Let's hope we reverse the roles. Put out Juventus and go on to win the competition.
For me 1-0 City. Scorer? Who else? Buenos Cumpleanos Mami.