Manchester City went into their Champions League opener against Juventus in excellent form, having won five out of five in the Premier League, while conceding none.
The big question was: could Manchester City finally take the Champions League by storm and take their Prem form into the Champions League? The answer to this was no, as City slumped to their first defeat of the season, losing the game 2-1 at the Ethiad Stadium.
Manchester City have struggled in the Champions League and always seem to be drawn the dreaded ‘group of death’. They have been knocked out in the Round of 16 in the last two seasons against Barcelona and were beaten a comfortable 3-1 on aggregate last season.
They have a slightly easier group this time round and there was real belief that this could be the season that they take Europe by storm. Things didn’t quite go to plan against Juve however, as a nervy City side caved under pressure and lost the game in the dying minutes.
CITY’S INJURY PROBLEMS
Sergio Aguero was only on the bench for City after he sustained an injury in the Crystal Palace match.
David Silva and Raheem Sterling both missed the Palace match but both started against Juventus. Silva played the whole 90 minutes, plus additional time, while Sterling was replaced by Kevin De Bruyne after 70 minutes. Fabian Delph, Pablo Zabaleta and Gael Clichy all missed the match too.
HOW THE GAME PANNED OUT
Man City bossed possession and created numerous chances in the first half but were wasteful in the final third and missed Aguero’s clinical nature.
They finally broke the deadlock following a corner kick, when Giorgio Chiellini, manhandled by Vincent Kompany, headed into his own goal. This made it 1-0 to the home side and would have relieved the City faithful who have come to except Champions League disappointment.
Sterling and Silva both had opportunities to add to the score line and double City’s lead but they found themselves up against a resolute Gianluigi Buffon, who refused to be beaten a second time.
Paul Pogba was then given far too much space and punished City by playing an inch-perfect through ball over the defence which Mario Mandzukic converted. Mandzukic ghosted in behind a sleeping Eliaquim Mangala, before clinically finishing the chance first time on the volley. This made it 1-1 and set the game up for an interesting last twenty minutes.
Alvaro Morata then put Juventus ahead when he exquisitely curled the ball into the bottom corner with his left foot, leaving Joe Hart no chance. It was a fantastic finish and shows how cruel European football can be.
City were yet again questionable at the back and it was far too easy for Morata to get the shot off. Juventus just hoofed the ball over the top of the defence in the hope that it would create a chance and it certainly caused City problems. It wasn’t a great ball but they didn’t deal with it and it unintentionally deflected off Aleksandar Kolarov’s arm before Morata dispatched a sensational strike which won Juve the game.
It was not the start Man City were hoping for and they know what’s expected of them given the amount of money they’ve spent.
The defeat to Juventus still shows there is work to be done and City must make sure they win their next fixture in the competition, which will be against Borussia Mönchengladbach at Borussia-Park. Borussia Mönchengladbach are arguably the weakest opponents in the group and City should beat the German side comfortably.
They can’t let this poor result affect them mentally but it will no doubt add pressure on the players and manager. Winning in their next game is seen as a necessity now and anything short of this will be unacceptable.