Buoyant City to go in search of the Real deal in Europe
After this fine performance, Manchester City need a “perfect one” against Real Madrid on Wednesday in the Champions League, said Roberto Mancini. The Italian knows that Jose Mourinho’s savvy and the Cristiano Ronaldo-led quality of the Madridistas is a different proposition to a young Aston Villa side who were thrashed 5-0.
“Unfortunately, it will not count for anything against Real. But it is important for the Premier League, it was a good performance,” was the manager’s verdict on two goals each from Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez, plus David Silva’s 43rd-minute opener. “It’s important that we’ve had so much from our strikers in the last two games – six goals.” Mancini shrugged when asked if this level of display would be good enough against the nine-times European Champions. “I don’t know about that. They are one of the best teams in the world,” he said. “To beat them we will have to give a perfect performance.”
City’s Champions League travails this year can be traced back to the closing minutes of their opening match, September’s visit to the Bernabeu when 2-1 became 2-3 due to strikes from Karim Benzema and Ronaldo.
Can City’s battlers take confidence from how close they were? “Yes, but I don’t think it will be easy,” Mancini said. “This is another game but if we want to beat them we will have to defend very well. They have three or four players who can decide the game at any moment.”
Defence was the issue that plagued City early on in the campaign. Now they have the Premier League’s meanest rearguard, with 10 goals conceded. To have the best chance against Madrid, City’s big guns of Yaya Toure, Silva, Aguero, Tevez and Samir Nasri will have to fire in unison. Mancini knows they will relish the challenge. “If you have players who have won World Cups, like Silva, playing against Real Madrid is the essence of football. When you start to play football you think, ‘I would love to play against Real Madrid, Barcelona.’ Big players like the big challenges. But we will need perfect concentration for this game.”
City are now top and still possess English football’s only unbeaten record. Fortunes in the Champions League are different. Group D shows City bottom, with no wins and two points yet still with a remote chance of qualification. City need to beat Madrid and Borussia Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion, and hope other results help them.
Mario Balotelli may be absent after injury ruled him out of facing Villa.
After Silva’s goal – only a second league strike of 2012 – Villa were rightly aggrieved regarding two questionable penalties for handball awarded by Adrian Holmes, the assistant referee. The first, especially, was odd. Andreas Weimann made no contact with the ball and there were no appeals from anyone yet Holmes made his judgement. Ron Vlaar, the captain, said: “Andreas is very disappointed, just like all of us.” – Guardian service