A difficult afternoon for City in Germany
Manchester City lost 2-1 against Leipzig in the last match of the UEFA Champions League group stage. Although this scoreline did not matter because we had qualified at the top of the group since the last matchday, it does leave some things to analyze.
To tell the truth, long before the match started or even before the line-ups were announced, we knew that the team would rotate, which is quite normal considering the number of matches coming up and the fact that we were already qualified as group winners.
That's why nobody was surprised to see players like Steffen, Stones, Ake, or Zinchenko starting.
That said, the forward and midfield gave an impression of solidity that was not shown in the match, with Grealish as a false 9, Mahrez and Foden on the wings, and De Bruyne and Gundogan in midfield.
Leipzig on the other hand neither had much at stake, as the most they could hope for was to qualify for the UEFA Europa League, which was very easy because any score that favored PSG would automatically put them in.
Now, going into the match something that generates a lot of expectation in me is that I think the duo of Grealish and Foden seems to have a lot of potential as long as they both learn to understand each other better.
Gundogan for his part brings a lot of recovery in midfield, which helps Kevin to have more freedom and also helps Fernandinho to feel more secure at the back in high-speed plays.
It is also worth noting that the game was extremely boring from the start and I think that is partly due to the fact that, as I mentioned, neither team had much to lose.
Despite this, I have to say that it is frustrating to see games like this, where it seems that no one wants to play, and while I understand that there were many absences including Cancelo and Bernardo, I think we could have done much better.
Another important issue during some points of the game is that our two midfielders were constantly appearing in the box, which is achieved thanks to that which I have highlighted several games ago, which is the ability of our fullbacks to occupy positions in the center of the field to close the spaces that are left there.
Now, just as I always highlight when a player does a wonderful job, I think it is also necessary to talk about when they are not focused or do not perform well on the field, but I hope none of this is confused with hate, as it is only an analysis of the way they played during this specific match.
I clarify this because in the defense everything was very confusing at times, it seemed as if they had not played a single game together, each and everyone was uncoordinated for many moments.
In fact, Walker and Fernandinho on many occasions had to appear as central defenders to prevent any Leipzig player to appear alone, which obviously created a space and an opportunity in that position that they left free to go to cover a teammate's position.
Throughout the previous games, I have highlighted the importance of Sterling because when the full-backs go forward he understands very well that his role becomes defensive, something that didn't happen much with Mahrez and Foden, although the full-backs didn't make a great effort to get forward either.
Having said that, I want to make it clear that not everything was bad, for example, Kevin is slowly returning to the level we know him, today he had a great game, he constantly asked for the ball, moved all over the pitch, helped in the recovery of the ball, etc.
For the second half, it seemed that Sterling gave a bit of freshness to the left-wing, but it didn't last long either as he soon rotated positions with Jack and completely disappeared from the game.
This last point is not to say that it was his fault, to tell the truth, the Leipzig defense did a great job as they were compact, closed spaces in such a way that it was almost impossible for the midfielders to have any contact with the false 9, whoever he was.
Finally, I would like to highlight two important points from what I saw during this match.
The first one is that during the game I think there was little desire from the team to play, which is understandable, I insist, there are a lot of games ahead and this one really did not contribute anything, but I think that if they did not want to play, Guardiola could have used players from CITY EDS who are eager to have a chance in the Champions League.
The second thing is that thanks to this kind of games is that we realize how necessary Ruben has become for the defense and Rodri for the midfield, both guys are leaders in their position and great recoverers, so even if you have other world-class players like Stones or Fernandinho for those positions, the difference is still noticeable.