Talking Points: Why did City not adopt a more pragmatic approach after taking the lead?
Written by: Neil Talnikar
The game between the two top English sides was one of the most dramatic matches played in the Champions League.
With the aggregate score tied at 4-4, the Spurs historically progressed to the semi finals of the tournament with the help of away goals scored. The game took a lot of twists and turns until the very final minute and is easily one to live down the memory lane.
Here are the talking points of the game-
5. Why did Pep Guardiola not adopt a pragmatic approach after taking the lead in the tie?
In honesty, City were always the frontrunners in the tie and they played in the exact way as they were expected before the start of the game. However, it is the tactical approach of Pep Guardiola that is questionable as even after taking a lead thrice in the game, the team looked unstable.
After Sergio Aguero netted his side’s fourth goal, Guardiola brought in Fernandinho in an attempt to establish control over the midfield, which is acceptable. However, despite the Brazilian’s introduction, City were found helpless during Spurs’ counter attacking situations.
The scoreline was in favour of them and they just needed to bring some more stability into the game. However, rather than bringing the pace of the game under control, City resumed with their relentless attacking.
This meant that a few mispasses resulted in more counter attacking chances for their opponents which was a lot to take for Fernandinho alone.
4. Will City’s Champions League exit affect their Premier League push?
It was naturally a very disappointing exit from the Champions League, but City have no time to grieve for their loss. With Liverpool mounting constant pressure, they need to regain their focus on retaining the Premier League title.
It will certainly not be an easy task for the Cityzens especially considering they are yet to play Manchester United and Tottenham- once again. Now that Mauricio Pochettino must have realised City’s weaknesses, it will be yet another intriguing tie between the two sides, once again at the Etihad Stadium.
It is all upto City now, whether they look at the fixture as a revenge for the European exit or not.
3. Can Son Heung-min become Spurs' talisman in the absence of Harry Kane?
The South Korean has been in an exceptional form this season and has truly been a revelation under Pochettino. Son had single-handedly put the Spurs ahead during the first leg against City and returned to haunt their defence in the return leg.
Scoring a spectacular brace early on in the game, the 26 year-old was the visitors’ best player on the pitch. His curling effort in the 10th minute, followed by a counter-attacking move was one of the best goals scored in the League this season. Moreover, the former Bayer Leverkusen forward who is gifted with a great pace, was one of the most hustling players in the attack, causing lot of troubles to City’s rare shambolic defence.
The question now is whether he can depute as the talisman for the Spurs until the end of the season, in absence of Harry Kane. The North Londoners will be missing Kane for the rest of the season due to an ankle injury and are desperately in need of a reliable option in his absence especially as they are fighting for both, the Champions League as well as for a position in the Premier League top four.
2. Does Bernardo Silva deserve more game time?
With his superb performances, time and again Bernardo Silva has made a case for a permanent place in Guardiola's starting lineup. His excellent display against Spurs showed a glimpse of what an amazing talent he possesses.
That little flicked pass to Aguero who in-turn fed Raheem Sterling for his second goal was one of the best moves of Silva on the night. The work rate he puts in, in each and every game is simply unbelievable as you can see him running up and down the pitch until the very end.
Yet, the Portuguese often finds himself warming the substitutes’ bench in the domestic league. It is high time Guardiola makes use of the talismanic midfielder who has the ability to create goals as well as good finishing touch.
1. Were the VAR calls right?
It is simply undeniable that VAR changed the entire course of the game between City and Spurs. Fernando Llorente’s scuffed finish, helped bring the visitors back into the game out of nowhere as the hosts were clearly dominating by then.
Guardiola went on to argue about the angle with which the match referee checked the video replay of the goal. “From one angle it is a handball, from another it is not,” said the Spaniard.
Then again in the 93rd minute when every single City fan was celebrating Sterling’s apparent winner, VAR ruled it out. Video replay clearly showed that Aguero was offside during the build up to the goal, much to the disappointment of Guardiola who was hands-on-head after the referee blew his whistle.
But what if VAR wasn’t there in the first place? City would have wrongly been one of the semi finalists today!
Published: Thu Apr 18, 2019 02:34 PM IST