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Saturday August 31, 2013 MYT 7:30:00 AM
Friday August 30, 2013 MYT 5:49:02 PM
by shaun orange
Fraizer Campbell (second from right) heads Cardiff's winning goal against Manchester City on Aug 25, 2013. Cardiff won 3-2. The Citizens will be hoping there won't be a repeat of this result when they face Hull City on Saturday. – EPA Photo
WITH reference to the European Champions League draw on Thursday, Manchester City midfield kingpin Yaya Toure told the German football magazine kicker: “Everyone wants to be better, and we have the team for it.”
The draw itself appears only marginally easier than those which saw the Citizens eliminated in the group stages of the tournament over the last two seasons. Defending champions Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen are City’s opposition in Group D, which thankfully this year is not the Group of Death.
But before the faithful at the Etihad start dreaming of reaching the knockout stages of the world’s leading club cup competition, they have a date with Hull City Saturday, and if they defend like they did against Cardiff last week, there are not many who would give them the slightest of chances in their pursuit of European Cup glory.
City were undone by some shoddy defending and a Herculean effort by the home side in the capital of Wales last Sunday. No doubt manager Manuel Pellegrini and his senior players will look to put that behind them and focus on the task at hand – to secure all three points.
If there was some solace to be had in the Cardiff loss, then it must be that City’s main rivals for the title – Chelsea and Manchester United – featured in a drab goalless draw the following day. In effect, that meant while City dropped points, so did the other two.
The absence of Vincent Kompany in central defence appeared to be at the heart of City’s problems. Thus, with the Belgian international still ruled out, Pellegrini will have to rally his rearguard and maybe to some extent, alter his man-to-man marking system at the back.
The return from injury to the line-up of 20-year-old Serbian Matija Nastasic will also be seen as a welcome boost.
Reports this week of City trying to sign Atletico Madrid defender Martin Demichelis likewise made for good reading. Of course, if it does come off, it would be excellent news for the Etihad.
There are no issues with this team going forward. Their front six, whatever options Pellegrini chooses to employ, are as deadly as any in the Premiership, or even in Europe for that matter. And one gets the impression that as summer signings Fernandinho, Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo settle down, things will become a lot more exciting in attack.
The old and tried hands, the likes of Sergio Aquero, Edin Dzeko, David Silva, Gael Clichy, Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart, continue to form the backbone of the squad and they still look as formidable as any side in the Premier League. What they need now is to forget about Cardiff, win this one and show everyone what Toure was talking about when he said that they have “the team to do it”.
Shaun Orange believes City will bounce back with a convincing win over Steve Bruce’s Hull at the Etihad on Saturday.
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football, Noisy Neighbours, Shaun Orange, Manchester City, Manuel Pellegrini, Champions League
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