Date:Tuesday September 18 2012
Ronaldo Pips City at the Post...
Probably the most eagerly awaited Champions League match as far as City are concerned, ever went ahead at the Estadio de Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid last night.
Blues fans were in good voice and full of expectation in view of Real`s early start to the season which has seen them uncharacteristically shed points amidst stories of unrest in the camp.
In the opening exchanges it was almost all Madrid as time and again they wheeled the ball out to ex-Stretford Ronaldo who time and again left Maicon looking like the wheelie bin outside my house.
Almost immediately CR7 got himself a clear look at Joe Hart`s goal but somehow missed and with Maicon looking more AWOL than Tevez last season, Kompany had to cover a step so closer and Barry was moved out wider in order to provide an additional block. Nastasic made a start and looked assured .
Garcia was to sit in front of the defence and spring forward, forcing Yaya to push forward. Silva and Nasri were attacking from wide positions and designed to move forward in turn to support the sole striker Tevez.
For much of the first fifteen minutes Madrid looked as if they would take City to the cleaners but the midfield finally got a shape sorted out and provided more resistance. Silva was floored on more than one occasion but it was probably twenty minutes in before caused any nervousness in the Real ranks.
With ten to go to half time Nasri fell like a stone holding his hamstring thus signalling the end of his night as Kolarov was lined up to replace him.
This seemed to give Silva the green light to get things moving and after 37 minutes City could have got lucky but simply didn`t.
Madrid had Higuain, Di Maria and Ronaldo up top in a wide formation with Khedira aiming to support, Alonso supporting through the middle and Essien in the holding role. Indeed each of the Real front men had chances which they couldn`t convert.
As the first half was drawing to a close Di Maria looked to be the most threatening Real man but Joe Hart was giving as good as was getting. He had to efforts ahead of the break but they came to nothing. Clichy seemed to be comfortable on the left and that side looked more solid with Kolarov providing the shield which kept Arbeloa in a deeper position. Tevez was struggling to see the ball and the first half more or less a case of how good he is when City don`t have the ball, an art in itself.
Real looked to be more dangerous but City were holding up well and defending resolutely and looking more comfortable as the half drew to a close and the Blues would have been please to get to the whistle with Hart`s goal intact.
As the second half got under way Kolarov was very much on show but his passing was a bit woeful, wasting possession on a number of occasion. Di Maria was first to show as Garcia was yellow carded for a not too robust challenge on Khedira who took to the grass a little bit too easy.
Nastasic made his first error and almost let Khedira in but it was cleared and shortly afterwards Clichy was busy clearing off the line as Madrid tried to put the hammer down. City needed to compose themselves and back in possession of the ball.
City got their first corner after 54 minutes and their second on the hour, but these yielded nothing in particular as Real once again got on the front foot and Marcelo hit a left footed screamer which swerved over the bar.
The backline looked still to be in control with Nastasic getting over his poor backpass looking classy in a neat clearance .
Next up another foul on Silva earned them a free kick. Tevez was over it as Dzeko replaced Silva, Mancini clearly hoping the delivery would fit the bill. But our good friend CR7 actually defended it!
Goals seemed to be happening all over Europe but the Madrilenos were not gaining any ground as Dzeko started to look a threat who had strayed offside.
Mourinho sent on Ozil for Essien to establish a more attack-minded line-up and immediately Marcelo hit another one over the bar centre stage having been given too much space. City were in control of themselves if not in charge of the match.
So seventy gone and the Blue Moon was still in tact. Yaya buzzed and burst through sliding the ball right on the money into the path of Edin Dzeko who slid it neatly left-footed past Casillas who probably should have stood up instead of gambling one way.
The City end went mad as the team celebrated on level twenty seven. Would this signal lift off for the home team? Vinnie bought himself a yellow card after letting Ronaldo know who was the gaffer whilst Blues fans out their famous nails for nibbling.
Mourinho prepared for his final throws as Modric and Benzema came on for Khedira and Higuain, whilst Mancini finally found room for fans favourite Pablo Zabaleta.
Next up Yaya went on the rampage again and inches wide under pressure from a defender. Then play swung immediately to the other end and this time Marcelo changed his position and this time curled the ball around Hart and into net for 1-1. Once again he had been left in too much space in a dangerous area and her made City pay dearly.
Real should now have got on the front foot. Nails were still being chewed more heavily now ad Ronaldo and Ozil got things moving. City weren`t seeing much of the ball now as the opposition ground attack got going in midfield, moving it quickly forward. Ronaldo was showing for everything and Real really looked on top form pressing from half way and not letting City off the hook. As quickly as City were getting the ball they were losing it again. They needed some composure but it wasn`t happening as the last ten approached. But it was Ozil who almost headed Real in front.
City tried to move things forward and hold possession, Kolarov gaining a corner for City as the White army went quiet. Once again the industrious Ronaldo headed it clear! Dzeko too was working hard closing down and looking for space.
Another free kick where Alonso unnecessarily went for Zabaleta ,although no cards in sight. Kolarov`s free kick caused all kinds of confusion in the Real box and resulted in an own goal.
However once again straight to the other end and within a minute Benzema, given too much space once more arrowed his shot into the back of Hart`s net as the Madrid fans were heading for the exits. City and in particular Nastasic were not tight enough in their marking and were once again punished by a lightning attack.
Now in stoppage time and Real were still looking for a winner as City began to hang on but right on cue Ronaldo came up with his first major contribution since the seventh minute he drilled the ball which bounced right in front of Joe Hart and into the net. Poor defending for me and Dzeko had to go looking again .
We were playing probably the biggest football club in the world although a team from a small neighbourhood close to Manchester would tell us different. I don`t do courageous defeats. Once again the defence looked leaky and it doesn`t look as though Mancini has got his formation right so far this year. Against a team like Real City will not get away with this and that is what we saw tonight. The steel and strength which saw them defend like demons to win the league title last season has deserted them this season. The back line looks like musical chairs and musical formations. We will recall that once City got a sustainable defence last season they were invincible. Once again however City`s default score was 3-2. This time it went against them.
At least Aguero is now waiting in the wings again and we move on to a tough match against the feeder club from Ashburton Grove.
Mancini will no doubt take some positives from this but once you have been in front with 2 minutes to go at the Berabeu, you have got to deliver the win. It will be an uphill fight for City but I`m convinced we can win our home matches in this division and pick up against Ajax away and possibly Dortmund too.
UPDATED UPCOMING FIXTURES:
all times East Manchester
Su 23 Sep 16h00 Arsenal, The Etihad, PL
Tu 25 Sep 19h45 Aston Villa, The Etihad, LC3
Sa 29 Sep 15h00 Fulham, Craven Cottage, PL
We 03 Oct 19h45 Borussia Dortmund, The Etihad, PL
Sa 06 Oct 12h45 Sunderland, The Etihad, PL
Sa 20 Oct 15h00 West Brom, The Hawthorns, PL
We 24 Oct 19h45 Ajax, Amsterdam Arena, CL
Sa 27 Oct 17h30 Swansea City, The Etihad, PL
Date:Tuesday September 18 2012
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