With seven points through five games, the Citizens are looking more and more like they will be heading to the Europa League. They have failed to pick up crucial wins, and it does not appear they can translate the success they have had in the league to the CL.
As Bayern Munich and Napoli look to advance out of the group, let’s examine why Man City will not make the knockout stages of this year’s CL.
Anyone that has success in the CL will be the first to tell you that this competition requires a completely different type of preparation.
City lacks the experience needed to compete with Europe’s elite, which is odd, considering they are dominating the EPL. After a hiatus from the competition, Mancini’s men are not properly experienced, and this is their downfall.
There is a lot that goes into winning this competition—travelling to different countries, playing teams you have never played before, etc.—and Man City lack the knowledge and familiarity needed in order to advance. If City continually make the cut and play in the CL the next few years, they can then acquire the necessary experience that enables them to make the KO rounds.
Mario Balotelli is not always the sole perpetrator when it comes to this, as David Silva pointed out yesterday, but City have a lot of maturing to do if they want to be mainstays in the CL.
Unnecessary bookings and tackles have haunted City during most of their group games, and yesterday’s match validated this notion. I understand the frustrations that come up during play, but the team needed to be a lot more composed, considering how critical this game was.
Napoli, the referees and unfortunate calls got under the skin of City’s players, and they ultimately killed off themselves in the end. Mancini needs to do a better job of keeping his players under control and do away with needless cards and fouls.
If Napoli was the personification of “killer instinct” yesterday, City was the exact opposite.
While the Neapolitan outfit were able to put away their chances and play cohesive football from front to back, City was wasteful and often opted to pass the ball around, instead of getting forward. While attractive football is always welcome, sometimes you need to be direct in the final third, and City did not do that.
They have an abundance of attacking talent in their squad—albeit most of it was on the bench—but they haven’t been able to put the final pieces together during their group games. I feel that the introductions of Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri came way too late, and Mancini should have put those two on much earlier.
City rely on their skill and technique to dominate opponents, and rarely resort to counter-attacking football, which is why they have been so ineffective thus far.
Most Serie A teams are very disciplined and organized, especially in the back. City tried to pass and move around Napoli’s men, but they could never really break them down fully. In order to beat an opponent like Walter Mazzarri’s side, you need fight fire with fire—that is, City should have absorbed their pressure and tried to spring their attackers on the counter-attack, just like Napoli did to them.
Edison Cavani was so good yesterday because he was able to catch the back four of City on the break and counter-attack brilliantly. City are huge fans of the Uruguayan, and maybe their style of play can expand if they are able to bring the striker to Manchester.