Saturday, 10 December 2011

ON A WIN AND A PRAYER

December 7th 2011 and it was judgement night. City Vs Bayern Munich in the Champions league at the Etihad. City had to win, but even if they did, our fate lay elsewhere. If Napoli beat Villarreal, it didn't matter what the result was in Manchester, we'd be out and heading into the Europa league. I've got to admit, I'd resigned myself to the fact that our Champions league adventure was over, but it's football, and you never know what can happen so we would have to keep our fingers well and truly crossed. Team news was pretty much what you'd expect but for the right back position. Hart was in Goal, in defence it was Clichy on the left, Lescott and Kompany in the middle and injury to Richards and Zabbaleta saw Savic come in to play Right back. Yaya and Barry were the holding midfielders with Nasri and Silva the attackers, with Dzeko and Aguero up front. 



I was quite relaxed going to the ground because in my mind we were already out. The worst thing that could happen in my mind would be for us to lose our game and Villarreal to do us the favour we needed and win. I was just going to enjoy the experience of watching my team play one of Europes best teams. I didn't think it could get any better than watching us play Juventus last year, but it has, after all that is what it's all about for me. I never for a second thought we'd win the Champions league, especially after the group we were drawn in, so i just wanted to enjoy it and experience it while it lasted. Seeing the ground draped in the Champions league Livery, seeing the bigger teams coming to play in our back yard and that music giving you goosebumps before every game. I would be disappointed if we went out, but the Europa league is still a trophy to win and it still sees big clubs I've never seen before coming to our ground. Europa league was good enough for us Citys fans last year and we were gutted when we got knocked out so IF we end up back there, maybe we could go for it again.

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The match is self was good stuff, City looked like they had learnt a valuable lesson in Europe and kept the ball  better enjoying a large amount of possession, admittedly against a weaker Bayern Side, as they were already through, they rested their biggest stars. The atmosphere was weird. It was a good atmosphere but a little subdued as obviously everyone had one ear on what was happening at Villarreal. Aguero had a good chance to open the scoring, a great cross from Nasri, but his headed flew over the bar. We had a goal disallowed, when a free kick from Siva ended up in the net, but Lescott had been judged to have fouled the keeper when he climbed with him so it was ruled out. City were playing well though and eventually got the goal they deserved on 37 minutes. Barry played the ball into Dzeko, whose little flick was taken brilliantly by Silva on his chest and from the edge of the box he fired in an unstoppable shot to put us 1-0 up. Word on the Radio said that Villarreal were holding Napoli to 0-0 and that was good enough for us.




The second half was pretty much the same thing, city keeping the ball and the crowd rumbling with anticipation that it was still 0-0 in Villarreal and also there was an under current of Basel 1 Manchester United 0 to. On 56 minutes the mood got better when Yaya made it 2-0. City walking through the Bayern defence, Silva to Dzeko and Dzeko through to the in rushing Yaya to poke the ball home. Still 0-0 in Villarreal and City fans were starting to allow them selves to believe. I had my radio one listening for news from Spain all the way through the match and people around me were asking me every couple of minutes "what score is Napoli?" & "What score is United?". I kept giving them the news they wanted to hear until the 65th minute and Napoli scored. That was it, Villarreal had never looked like getting a point all the way through the group stage and now they were 1-0 down. We were doing what we had to do though and i know it made a lot of blues proud. We played the game out winning 2-0 but in the end a 2-0 win for Napoli saw us exit the Champions league. Not a great night as far as Manchester were concerned as Manchester United crashed out to losing 2-1 in Basel.




The main things to take from this game was the fact that it looked like we'd learnt how to play in Europe's elite competition now, to late maybe, but we looked a lot more patient against Bayern than we had against Napoli in our opening game, the draw at home that in the long run probably cost us the most and the other thing i took from this game was that Savic looks a better right back than he does a centre back. I'm not saying he's a bad central midfielder, he isn't, but i thought he had the best game i've seen him play at right back, good to know. Nasri again was great and even though Dzeko had a quiet game, he did provide the touch to set up both goals so not all bad. So our European football moves to Thursday nights again, back in the Europa league, ah well, lets just go out and win that instead hey ? I'm still a very happy blue, Thanks for reading.

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