Europa League preview: Manchester City v Dynamo Kiev
City go into the 12th game of our Europa League campaign knowing it will be the last unless a two goal deficit to Dynamo Kiev is overturned. Unbeaten in 11 games and dangerous on the break there is also the fear that a goal for the Ukrainians will leave City needing four.
“He was not just captain because of what he achieved in the past, he was one of the best players in their team.”
Whether we can cope with another five games in the Europa League, or whether we would be better off out of it, is a question currently dividing City fans.
On the one hand is the desire for silverware and tearing down a certain banner at Old Trafford. Having come so far, to field a weakened team and go out now would be hard to take for all those supporters who have dug deep into their pockets and followed the team across Europe.
Yet there is the fear that the demands of this bloated competition will leave us with nothing by the season’s end. Having a full-strength side give their all on Thursday is hardly the ideal preparation for Sunday’s game at Stamford Bridge.
A similar situation would arise prior to the FA Cup semi-final with City being required to play a Europe game on the prior Thursday. We’ll need to up our game from our current performance levels and the only clear way for that to happen is not having to play twice every week. Exiting the Europa League could actually increase our chances of winning some silverware.
Carlo Ancelotti has injured players returning and is likely to rest Torres and Essien in readiness for Sunday’s fixture. Having lost their last games against us, Chelsea won’t be taking it lightly, as they seek to regain a place in the top three.
The big fear for next season is failing to qualify for the Champions League. That was the minimum requirement for Mancini and missing out could cost him his job. The upheaval of another managerial change would be unwelcome and senior players such as Tevez, Silva and Yaya would no doubt be restless at the prospect of another year away from club football’s premier competition.
Despite all this, Mancini appears determined to try and overcome Kiev. A strong line-up is on the cards, and it will be interesting to see if anyone is rested for the Chelsea game. He won’t do it, but Mancini could, just about, field a different set of outfield players for the Kiev and Chelsea games (as shown below).
Mancini claims James Milner is fit enough for a place on the bench, while Adam Johnson may be just about fit enough for the Chelsea fixture. Whether it would be wise to rush them back now is open to question as it would make them eligible for the upcoming England games. City’s interest would be better served by having the pair remain at Carrington to work on their fitness during the international break.
Expect a spirited start against Kiev as an early goal would instil belief in both the team and the crowd. If the first goal goes to Kiev then thoughts may well turn to Wembley on the terraces, and to Stamford Bridge on the touchline.
Going out at this stage would disappoint many, but never in recent times has their been a better chance of glory to come.
Blue Days line-up (4-2-3-1):
Boateng – Boyata – Wabara – Kolarov
Vieira – Milner
Wright-Phillips – Razak – Jo
Prediction: 2-1 to City.
Blue Days line-up for Chelsea game:
Richards – Kompany – Lescott – Zabaleta
de Jong – Barry
Silva – Y Toure – Balotelli