Manchester City earned a memorable win last night as they beat current European Champions, Bayern Munich, 3-2 on their own turf. Here is a look at the main talking points of the night.
The Return of David Silva
The return of David Silva was the headline team news for City as Manuel Pellegrini selected the Spaniard for his first appearance since picking an injury against CSKA Moscow in November. Silva is widely regarded as City’s finest player and he certainly reminded everyone of what they have been missing in recent weeks. Here was a display full of Silva’s trademark creativity, vision and skill. Indeed, it was Silva’s ability to get hold of the ball and think that awoke City from their slumber which saw them two goals down after 12 minutes. He duly got City’s first goal of the night and was a constant threat to Bayern thereafter.
Whilst Samir Nasri’s excellent form this season has somewhat lessened the impact of Silva’s absence there is no doubt that the Spaniard is in a class of his own. The prospect of Silva and an in form Nasri in the same eleven is an exciting one. With City welcoming Arsenal to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday in a crucial Premier League encounter, it’s a prospect that is likely to become a reality sooner rather than later.
Smells Like Team Spirit
City looked dead and buried after 12 minutes and it felt inevitable that Bayern would once again embarrass Pellegrini’s City. It is great credit to the team that they hauled themselves back from mess they were in to comeback and earn a famous win. Let’s not forget that this was a team largely made up of the second string. Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo and Samir Nasri were all absent.
James Milner will deservedly take the plaudits after he had a hand in all three goals but Pablo Zabaleta’s silencing of Frank Ribery also deserves great praise. There were excellent performances all over the pitch: Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Martin Demichelis and Joleon Lescott all excelled.
Javi Garcia also acquitted himself well in the heart of midfield. Subject to something of a hate campaign this season and repeatedly as a scapegoat for all of City’s woes, Garcia has improved as the season has developed. He is by no means entirely convincing but his performances of recent weeks and indeed last night at least warrant a reassessment from the supporters who all too readily write him off at the mere mention of his name.
If there was any doubt whether Typical City is still a thing I can assure you that it is. It lives on, as strong as ever. You wouldn’t have known that City were one goal away from securing top spot of the group as they lead 3-2 with half an hour left to play. Well, actually, you would have if you were anyone other than the Manchester City manager.
In a baffling turn of events, Pellegrini’s post match interviews strongly suggest that he believed City needed to win by three goals to claim top spot in the group and potentially avoid European giants such as Barcelona and Real Madrid in the next round. It’s all rather comical, and slightly embarrassing, but isn’t it the norm for something to go horribly wrong every time City go to Munich?
Rather depressingly, and inevitably, the media have swarmed all over the aforementioned calamity to such an extent that you could be forgiven for not knowing that City actually won the game. The most extreme headline can be found in The Guardian: “Pellegrini gets goal difference rules wrong as Man City fall short at Bayern”. The reality is, of course, quite different. Prior to the game, Bayern had not lost in 40 Bundesliga games, had won their last 18 home games in all competitions and had won 10 straight Champions League matches. To focus on all that that though would be silly wouldn’t it?
Written by Robert Toole