Game in a Sentence
Manchester City just eke out a draw with the help of a Balotelli penalty and Joe Hart’s heroics against a lively and creative Borussia Dortmund.
- Manchester City with the “One Englishman in the lineup” approach, with a 4-2-3-1 with Aguero flanked by Silva and Nasri, with Dzeko on his own. Zabaleta and Clichy as right and left backs. Nastasic interestingly started in CB. Toure next to Garcia in the double P.
- No shocks from Dortmund. Also 4-2-3-1, with the “Polish right” consisting of Lewandowski up front, Blaszczykowsk in the right of the three, and Piszczek in RB. Predictably, a good deal of pressure came from that side, although it should be pointed out Goetze was very effective in linking up with Reus.
- Dortmund have a cool shirt font. Slightly cooler than City’s actually. That is all.
- The first half was…well, active. Wet ‘n Wild, under the lashing Manchester rain. Both sides played a narrow defense at times, presumably expecting each other to play through the middle. Dortmund slightly edged Man City in creativity and comfort stretching the play in attack, but the Blue Man Group was pretty adept at knocking balls over the top, or having Silva zing his way to the feet of Aguero.
- That meant various players were afforded plenty of opportunities to test either keeper, often from close range. And boy did both keepers rise to the occasion. Weidenfeller made a series of key stops, while Joe Hart was the last man on several instances to stop shots and shrink the space between himself and the last man, whether Aguero, Guendogan, Goetze, or Dzeko.
- At the end of the first half, both sides accrued four shots on target a piece, with Dortmund edging out City on total attempts 11 to 6. City looked more disjointed on the whole, and Dortmund were effective at cutting off the channels for Toure to create attacks in numbers with useful early passes.
- The weird and exciting detente continued into the second half, and a couple of things happened. One, Mancini realized his side weren’t going to find a breakthrough quick enough, and so switched to a 3-5-2 after Nasri went off for Kolorov in the 57th minute, who joined Zabaleta as a wing-back, while Kompany played in the centre of a back three alongside Clichy and Nastasic.
- Two, three minutes later Jack Rodwell fluffed a simple pass in defense, which allowed Reus to storm through the middle and smash the ball past Hart to make it 0-1 in the 61st minute. CLANGER! But one suspects this would be the only way for either side to score.
- City looked slow, and immediately after the goal Dortmund exploited the right flank to create good chances for Reus again, and Guengodan, both saved by Hart. What a shit show.
- Unfortunately it seemed Man City would do what they often do in these situations, which is to mope. This allowed some more defense cutting moments later in the half, including a laser pass from Gundogan to Lewandowski who inexplicably missed a sitter in the 76th minute. Should have been 0-2.
- Then Balotelli came on for Clichy. Then Manchester City played a little better, but perhaps not that much better. Then City won a handball when Subotic stuck out his arm on a City cross attempt in the box. Then Balo was Balo, with a stutter step and a finish as cool as outer space.
- Then Joe Hart continued his exquisite form and saved yet again, this time off Lewandowski. City’s defense left far, far too many gaps for Dortmund to exploit. Hart can’t save everything, and the result is City have invited more shots than any other side in the Champions League group stage this season.
- A very captivating game of football, all around. Manchester City’s defense often sixes and sevens, but Joe Hart rose the occasion, as much if not more than his counterpart in Weidenfeller. City will need to be far, far better in defense to get out of this very difficult group, while Dortmund look much more lethal than the side that crashed out of last year’s Champions League.