Manchester City ran out comfortable 4-0 victors in Rotterdam against Dutch side Feyenoord in their 2017-18 Champions League curtain raiser.
With a buzz of expectation surrounding Pep Guardiola and Manchester City this season, knocking away teams which aren’t in the Champions league elite club shouldn’t come as a surprise whatsoever. They were expected to win – and win handsomely – on Wednesday, and that’s exactly what they did.
You could watch this City performance over and over and still find it difficult to come up with any negatives. But as far as positives are concerned, there were aplenty.
With due respect to Feyenoord, this fixture was never going to mark much significance in terms of gauging City’s quality and, reading too much into the superlatives that will follow the 4-0 demolition is hardly a wise man’s decision. However, there were a few notable analyses that can be drawn at the end of this game.
Manchester City’s Top Class South American Duo
If there were any doubts questions over Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus’ strike partnership, they must be dispelled. Yet again on Wednesday night, the two were in cahoots with each other and registered a goal a piece.
Truth be told, theirs isn’t a partnership where the two have a telepathic understanding (think Alli-Kane, Gerrard-Torres), but the presence of one can exploit the other’s attributes to great effect.
This was exemplified over the course of the match as Jesus’ pace and runs in-behind the Feyenoord back-line were opening spaces for Aguero to run-into. For the architectural brilliance of David Silva in midfield, having such a potent duo in front of him must be a dream and, one that he is fully capable of realizing.
The game marked Jesus’ debut in the Champions league for Manchester City. The Brazilian is the fourth player to score on his debut in this competition for the Citizens. As for Aguero, he’s scored 18 goals in his last 22 appearances in all competitions and he’s back to being at his dangerous best. As if he ever wasn’t!
If City can ensure the fitness of Aguero and Jesus, their partnership up front will only get better as the season progresses – an extremely worrying sight for opponents.
John Stones The Man
Just over 13 months ago, Manchester City paid £47.5 million to snap up John Stones from Everton on a six-year deal, owing to the youngster’s growing reputation as a brilliant centre-back. While he struggled to gain enough consistency last season, the 23-year old will be looking to make a mark this term.
Stones lit up the stadium with his performance on Wednesday, and aside from the tackles and blocks, he also stole a couple of goals. His display definitely warrants a hundred-word heap of praise as there is huge expectation from him, and Guardiola will hope that he can pull off performances of similar nature in the coming weeks.
Can Feyenoord qualify for the round of 16?
The joy and delight of the fans at De Kuip was audibly evident, as this stadium was witnessing Champions League football for the first time in 15 years. But it only took a minute and a half to quieten the rocking De Kuip as John Stones opened the scoring for Manchester City.
It was one way traffic for ninety minutes, with the away side enjoying 73% of the possession, and the home side constantly on their heels, defending wave after wave of City’s relentless attack. It’s no secret that the situation that Feyenoord finds themselves in is an extremely difficult one.
They did brilliantly to win the Eredivisie last season, but having won just 2 out of their previous 14 Champions League games before last night, it was always a tall ask to expect Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side to get much joy against one of the strongest squads in this season’s competition.
Feyenoord’s qualifying chances look pretty bleak at the moment and, if they have to give themselves any chance of reaching the round of 16, they must put up proud displays at home. However, Group F is far from the toughest group, and if they can grind good results against Shakhtar Donetsk and Napoli, particularly at De Kuip, who knows.
Confidence booster for City’s new recruits
Both of City’s full-backs – bought in for massive money this summer – were outstanding on the night. Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy were unstoppable forces down the right and left flank respectively, as the former was even rewarded with an assist for Aguero’s goal.
This is just the kind of play that the manager has bought them for, and Guardiola couldn’t be more pleased.
Bernardo Silva, another star signing from Monaco, took his time to settle into the game but once he did, the Portuguese was a joy to watch. The game was well and truly over before half time, and so it was ideal for the new recuits of City to get some minutes under their belt without being under too much pressure.
Could This Be Guardiola’s Season?
As mentioned in the introduction, this game does not hold much significance for City apart from earning three points, but there is certainly an air of hopeful excitement among the City faithful this season.
The world saw Guardiola’s Barcelona side leave defences paralyzed in their wake, always finding a way to thread the ball through no matter how thin the eye of the needle. With Man City this season, he has at his disposal all the similar, cold, ingredients in attack to rip teams apart: vision, composure, fluidity and ruthlessness.
To say that they made a statement by thumping Feyenoord 4-0 is an overstatement, but only ignorant contemporaries would not have made note of their presence. Make no mistake about it, Manchester City are in it to win it this season.