Champions League verdict: Villarreal 0 Manchester City 3
City’s first ever away victory in Europe’s premier club competition could hardly have been more comfortable thanks to a clinical pair of Yaya Toure strikes sandwiching a Mario Balotelli penalty. Injuries and Aguero’s last minute winner in the previous round had clearly taken their toll on Villarreal.
Roberto Mancini sprung a surprise in selecting Stefan Savic ahead of Joleon Lescott. Maybe the manager didn’t want to risk Joleon ahead of the game against QPR when Kompany is suspended. With Villarreal impotent in attack Savic was able to demonstrate his excellent composure on the ball – you have to remind yourself he’s still only 20.
Where this leaves Kolo Toure is an interesting thought. Maybe he was being saved for the QPR game where Savic will be rested. If not then Kolo’s future could be open to question.
He’s yet to regain his best form following the six month suspension so Mancini is justified in not picking him. However there is also the internal disciplinary hearing which Kolo is said to be unhappy about. An interview with French radio last week was seen as a come and get me plea to PSG.
Kolo is on very big wages for a fourth choice centre-back, and at 30 isn’t one for the future. If Marwood is looking to streamline the wage bill, then bringing in another centre-back and moving on Kolo might make sense. Yet with the team doing so well, there is unlikely to be major squad upheaval in January and Mancini could do without having to bed in new defenders.
In the Villarreal game it was Yaya who once again proved the Toure of most value. His goals were each superbly taken, and hopefully this will mark a return to the accomplished finishing we saw last season.
Prior to the breakthrough, City had struggled once again to create clear openings against European opposition and this is a slight concern. Nasri showed good touches but failed to find a cutting edge to his play.
Adam Johnson has attracted criticism recently yet in the two games against Wolves he both instigated and scored goals. Nasri could do with hurting the opposition a little more if he is to justify his move.
Prior to City taking the lead Villarreal actually had the clearest sight of goal, but were let down by their striker’s inability to control the ball. Mancini will need to ensure we don’t allow such openings in Napoli.
Nigel de Jong’s influence steadily grew and his return to form will be vital in the coming months. In the more adventurous game we now play, his protection of the defence is key.
After five games without a clean sheet, it was good to see the team retain their focus in the second half and give Joe Hart complete protection. With Villarreal offering little once the opening goal had gone in, City were allowed to conserve their energy for future fixtures.
Napoli is looking like the key match where victory will see us qualify for the knock-out stages. Even a draw would keep our fate in our own hands. The two victories against Villarreal have hauled City back up the group and now we have everything to play for.