Europa League preview: Manchester City v Juventus
Tonight sees Juventus visit Eastlands as the biggest continental club we’ve played, outside of the Thomas Cook Trophy, since the 70’s. Back then Juve were lead from the back by Dino Zoff and managed by Giovanni Trappatoni – a manager who now sees more of Shay Given than we do.
The current Juve side may not be one of their greatest as they undergo a rebuilding process, both on and off the pitch. However the Agnelli family have dug deep once again to allow the signing of Krasic. Like ourselves, they are currently attempting to assimilate a host of new signings, though their start to the season has been less satisfactory than ours.
On Sunday they have the small matter of a trip to the San Siro to take on Inter, so it’s possible they may rotate a few players. Roberto Mancini has already said we will as he goes up against an Italian manager for the third game in succession – surely some kind of record for a City manager.
Juve have been very un-Italian of late in conceding eleven goals in their last five matches, including three in a draw with Lech Poznan. This game ought to be more open than that against Chelsea.
Trying to predict the City line-up is no easy task for the cup games and it could be of a similar strength to the one we saw in Salzburg. With Boateng, Adebayor and Lescott all returning to fitness, at least Mancini has the option of rotating with quality players.
Vieira looks set to feature in the cup games, though whether our central midfield is sufficiently mobile without de Jong is open to question. Neither Vieira, Barry or Yaya are particularly quick off the mark.
A runout for Boateng would probably be the most welcome sight, particularly as Mancini has openly mourned the lack of attacking full-backs available to him thus far. Shay Given deserves another game after being our star man at the Hawthorns, but chances are Mancini will stick with Joe for what is considered a big fixture.
Up front it will be interesting to see which of our strikers starts the game. Adebayor has been looking good in training, while Tevez could be due a rest after his exertions against Chelsea. Then again, leaving out Carlos against a side as good as Juve could be a big risk.
If all is going well Jo could get a runout at some point. The Brazilian is proving useful in enabling Mancini to rest our first choice strikers in the cup games.
Whoever plays up front, Adam Johnson ought to be on the flanks. After missing out on Saturday, it’s to be hoped the Wearsider is flying tonight. A place in the side against his North-East rivals Newcastle could be the reward.
“I played against Juve all my life, and supported them as a young guy, but it is not a special game for me. I want it to become a habit for us to be playing Italian squads, hopefully in the Champions League next year.”
There promises to be a good atmosphere at Eastlands tonight in what is hoped to be the first of many big European nights. If City can show the professionalism that has marked their Europa League campaign so far, then another victory could be ours.
Blue Days team (4-2-3-1):
Boateng – Kompany – Lescott – Zabaleta
Vieira – Barry
A Johnson – Silva – Milner
Prediction: 2-0 to City.
Brian Kidd scores for City in a 1-0 victory at Maine Road in 1976.