The standard of Football at City is such that more often than not, a draw feels like a defeat. But, today was one of such rare occasions when we were all sort of content with a draw. To be fair to Copenhagen, draw seemed like the right result considering the balance of play. But, despite us not being at our absolute best, I was very proud of certain aspects of our game. Importantly, we had shown great resilience and character defensively.
Excellent 1v1 Defending
All our center backs were put to a stern test by the Copenhagen front line. The fact that all of them had to be involved in a 1v1 situation at some or the other point of time illustrates the magnanimity of their effort. The fight put up by our center backs took me down the memory lane against Atletico Madrid last season, when we defended for our lives. I know the situation was not as critical here, but all our defenders were upto the task.
Dias seems to be rediscovering his best form and some of the tackles he made today reminded you of the Dias of a few seasons ago when he was just out of this world. Laporte also seemed to very good today and he controlled the game as much as he can defensively. The only criticism you could have of Laporte is that he was not able to break the lines with his passing. But, the moment we went down to ten men, it was almost impossible to pass through their midfield. Their extra man always cut out the passes of Laporte.
Confident that Mahrez will bounce back
This will probably go down as one of the worst days in office for Mahrez. It all started with his accidental handball ruling out Rodri’s wonder strike. Then, Mahrez got the opportunity to redeem himself with a penalty kick. But, it just turned from bad to worse for Mahrez. He missed the penalty kick and the final nail on the head was him being substituted with just half an hour gone.
There are a lot of people telling that Mahrez’s days at City are numbered. Many people feel that his game has started declining. But, what people must not forget is his experience in big games. Mahrez has been an exceptional performer for City in the Champion’s League over the last 2 seasons. He has held his nerve in some season defining moments for us. For people who are criticizing the penalty miss today, they must not forget how he held his nerve to score a defining penalty against Dortmund a couple of seasons back. There is no doubt that we will need the experience of Mahrez to go far and long in the Champions League.
Valuable lesson for Sergio Gomez
The red card might be disappointing for Sergio Gomez, but this could prove to be a very valuable lesson for him. As things cool off and he sits down to reflect on it, he will realize that his decision making and thought process could have been better. The biggest learning for Sergio Gomez is that drastic actions depend on the state of the game. If the striker was running through in the 85th minute, then Sergio Gomez was well within his right to take a red card for the team and prevent the goal.
But, the game was very young and there was a better part of an hour to go. In this situation, it was much better to concede a goal and stay 11v11. I am very confident that City could have made a comeback if we were 11 players and were a goal down, instead of a man. It is learning from situations like these that help a player to reach great heights. I hope that Sergio Gomez would have learnt from this and will use this experience to make far better decisions in the future.
If City had to pick a game for an off day, then they could not have picked one better. The schedule is relentless and there will be no chance to even catch a breather in the games coming up. So, we just take the draw and walk away with the fact that we fought well under demanding circumstances