Perfect result, but not the perfect performance at Lisbon
If you were just watching Pep Guardiola on the touchline, you would feel as though City were being battered by the opposition. Pep was fuming and was having long and lengthy discussions on the touchline with his assistants. None of the coaches looked over the moon with the fact that City were cruising 4-0 at half time. But, when you analyze City’s performance, you realize that the quality and ruthlessness of our players got us through. It was far from a perfect night at Lisbon.
We were absolutely poor on preventing counter attacks
One of the great strengths of Sporting Lisbon is pacy forwards who eat you up for dinner on counter attacks. They are absolutely magnificent in running at tthe opposition with great venom. So, managing transitions would have been the most practised drill on the training ground for City. Yet, in the first 15 minutes, we gave up 4 transitions and a better final delivery from Sporting would have seen us atleast a couple of goals down in the first quarter of an hour.
Just imagine that you are playing a Bayern or Liverpool and give away such counter attacks. You are going to be eaten alive by their forwards. Some of the positions taken by John Stones and Cancelo on the defensive front were just not good enough at this level. There were atleast 2 transitions where Stones was caught high up the pitch and literally Dias had to defend the box alone. These are the mistakes we need to iron out if we have to go far and deep in the Champions League.
City were at their absolute ruthless best
Glance back all your memories to that quarter final match in Lyon and the one word on everyone’s lips was, if only City could put the ball in the back of the net. We were missing open goals left, right and center. So, yesterday’s match was completely the opposite of what we have been doing in the Champions league under Pep. We were not perfect in the build up and other phases that Pep prides himself on. But, we were absolutely ruthless in putting the ball in the net.
Thinking about the performance with a greater insight, i feel that it is the lack of this ruthless side that has not allowed us to conquer the Champions League. Overthinking and extra emphasis on the process have actually cost us big games in the past and a little step away from that and placing more emphasis on being clinical might just be the missing ingridient that could lead Pep and City to their maiden Champions League title
Pep might critique the little technical things in yesterday’s performance, but he must also appreciate the fire in our finishing. Whatever you might say, teams in the Champions League are ruthless hunters and our forwards need to be at their sharpest to get anything out of this competition.