VMC European Preview: Salzburg v MCFC
Thursday, 16th September
City travel to Salzburg for the first of their European group games against Red Bull Salzburg. A side who won all six of their games at this stage in the competition last year. City are expected to name a strong line-up but this will a tough test of Mancini's squad depth.
"Silva is ready to play. The problem has been a lack of time in Carrington with the team," revealed the manager. He was last back from the World Cup which Spain won and then two days later away with the national team again and he has just been to Argentina and back with them.
"He is a very good player but it will take a couple of months for him to come to terms with the Premier League. When he has played three, four or five games he will be fine. As for Mario, he will be back in training in a month`s time and shortly after that he will be able to play."
"I know quite a bit about Salzburg - are they a good team? Of course they are and they will be difficult, particularly in their own stadium.
Any team that makes it to this stage has to be taken seriously and, if we needed a reminder, Salzburg won their league last season. Lech Poznan and Juventus will both be tough opponent as well so it`s important we get points on the board quickly.
"I`ve watched a lot of Austrian football and Salzburg move the ball around well, are technically good and have a physical element to their game - it should be a great match and I think that, because of our profile, each time we play in Europe it will be a kind of cup final for the home team."
"It will not be easy, the place will be buzzing and Salzburg proved last year winning their title and their group in this competition that they are a decent side. We are determined to bounce back from the disappointment of dropping points at home, though I don't think we played badly at all against Blackburn.
'We have been solid defensively all season and that is important when you go away from home in any competition. We are in a very competitive group for qualification and in such circumstances getting off to the fastest of starts is important. We can't take anything for granted.'
"I knew Nigel de Jong already through his father and he took over the number six position for me after a few injuries. With his strength in defensive midfield he made van der Vaart and Hamburg stronger.
"Vincent Kompany was unfortunately also injured during my time in Hamburg and rarely got a game. For Man City he is a very important defender though - big, quick, physically strong, a super guy.
"And Jerome Boateng caught my eye back when he was playing for Hertha Berlin`s youth team, and when Didi Beiersdorfer asked if he should take him to Hamburg, I recommended him to do so immediately. Despite his size he is a very quick player who can play at left and right back, although he will probably not play against us due to injury."
Red Bull Salzburg Team News:
Huub Stevens is set to opt for a cautious 4-5-1 formation with Argentinean striker Gonzalo Zarate leading the line. However, this approach is understandable after Red Bull`s abysmal start to the season that sees them placed third from bottom. Salzburg`s defence has been leaking goals left, right and centre and hopefully the likes of Tevez, Silva and Johnson will be able to find a way through.
Player to watch: Gonzalo Zarate
Zarate was signed from Grasshopper earlier this summer to replace Marc Janko; the prolific striker who scored 75 goals for RBS in only 108 games - an outstanding record. Obviously, Janko is an extremely tough act to follow but Zarate is an accomplished finisher who netted 14 times last season in the Swiss League and interestingly was topped by Emile Mpenza who scored 21 goals last campaign for FC Sion. Anyway, Zarate is pacy player who likes to use his left foot whenever possible. Our central defenders will have to be alert.
Manchester City Team News:
Roberto Mancini could only name 2 genuine strikers for tomorrow night`s game with Red Bull Salzburg in Austria - Carlos Tevez and Jo. Emmanuel Adebayor has not travelled with the team due to a dead leg which is expected to ease-up in time for clash with Wigan at the weekend. Mario Balotelli will 'be back in training in a month`s time` according to Roberto Mancini which sounds more promising than yesterdays news ruling the Italian out for a maximum of ten weeks. Finally, as Roque Santa Cruz was named in the European squad Mancini has very little attacking options.
Also injured is Joleon Lescott who has picked up a groin injury which could rule him out for around two weeks. But the heat has been taken off Lescott`s absence by the return of Wayne Bridge, who is expected to start for the Blues at left back. David Silva has rightly been given the vote of confidence by Mancini and will start tomorrow, hopefully in a free role. Nigel de Jong is also expected to return from injury whilst Jerome Boateng could make his long awaited City debut at the DW.
Therefore, I think that the team will look something like the following:
Possible City Team:
5) Zabaleta - 28) K Toure - 38) Boyata - 3) Bridge
11) A. Johnson - 34) de Jong - 18) Barry - 7) Milner
Player to watch: David Silva
It`s got to be David Silva. After he first spoke to the press about his struggles in England thus far and his hopes and expectations for the next few months, all eyes will be on him. Mancini has talked-up his Spanish midfielder and expects David to shine over the coming weeks. Silva is a brilliantly talented player who showed exactly what he can do in his brief 10 minutes against Blackburn. He has the ability to pick that killer pass and unlock closed doors with his vision and awareness. Silva also has a brilliant knack of getting into goal scoring opportunities by peeling off his teammates` runs and is a much better finisher than many give him credit for.
Match Facts & Stats
In Salzburg`s only previous tie against English opposition, they were eliminated by Blackburn Rovers, led by future City manager Mark Hughes, in the first round of the 2006/07 UEFA Cup, drawing 2-2 in Austria before losing 2-0 in England.
City are facing Austrian opponents for the first time.
City have won their last three European games since a 3-1 defeat by Hamburger SV in the first leg of the 2008/09 UEFA Cup quarter finals.
City`s 1-0 win at FC Timisoara in the UEFA Europa League play offs ended a run of four games - three defeats and a draw, without a win away from home in Europe.
This will be a tricky tie. No doubts about it. Salzburg have a good striker in Zarate who will cause our defence some problems. However, I expect City to have enough to emerge from this game with three points. Salzburg's defence is suspect and I expect the likes of Tevez and Silva to take advantage of this. Prediction: Salzburg 0 - 2 MCFC
Sunday, 19th September v Wigan @ 15:00 (A)
Wednesday, 22nd September v West Brom. CARLING CUP @ 20:00 (A)