The Champions League: Manchester City Vs Borussia Dortmund

Posted on October 3, 2012

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The second round of Champions League fixtures saw Manchester City host Borussia Dortmund at the Etihad stadium in the ‘group of death.’ City really needed to win this game to have a chance of progressing to the next round and put to bed their opening night defeat against Real Madrid, a game in which they let slip a 1-2 lead in the final ten minutes to lose 3-2.

The pre-match analysis focused on the threat that Dortmund carry going forward with dangerous players such as Robert Lewandowski, Marco Reus and Mario Gotze leading the line for the German side. City would have to defend well against a young, vibrant and quick attacking line up. The weak link for City’s defence was identified as the young, Serbian centre back Matija Nastasic, who at 19 years of age has very little Champions League experience. However, City started with Edin Dzeko leading the line with Aguero, Silva and Nasri supporting him. Roberto Mancini’s attacking options would no doubt cause problems for a strong but young Dortmund defence.

The game started quickly with the first effort on goal coming from Samir Nasri who linked up well with Edin Dzeko to get his shot away from the edge of the box and force the save from Weidenfeller. Dortmund then went up the other end to fashion a chance of their own as a cross from the left hand side found Lewandowski who had to reposition himself to direct the header, but could not find the target. It was a very encouraging start to the game from both teams.

Both sides enjoyed some early possession and passing moves but Manchester City carved out another opportunity as Weidenfeller came off his line quickly to deny Aguero who made an intelligent run through the Dortmund defence. Mario Gotze then forced a good save from Joe Hart after some fine play down the right hand side; the shot was parried onto the post by the City keeper. The midfield battle was always going to be key to victory in this match and the first half could not really split the two teams as both Silva and Gotze enjoyed time on the ball to pick their passes. Although City enjoyed more of the possession it was Dortmund’s pressure on the ball that was impressive as they looked to win the ball and counter attack with pace.

City’s defence struggled to cope with Dortmund’s attackers

The weather conditions worsened in the first half as the rain continued to fall, however, this didn’t dampen the spirits of the travelling supporters who were jubilant and cheered their team on relentlessly. However, it was City who had another good chance to break the deadlock as David Silva slid the ball between Hummels and Subotic to Aguero who took the shot early, but was once again denied by Weidenfeller in the Dortmund goal. City were forced to make a change on 34 minutes as Javi Garcia came off with a thigh injury to be replaced by Jack Rodwell. The open feel to the game did not change as Weidenfeller made another save from Aguero and Joe Hart watched a shot from Subotic go narrowly wide.

It was a real end-to-end finish to the first half as Dortmund’s Mario Gotze showed glimpses of his star potential. The young German went through on goal after a smart one-two, but Hart came out quickly and smothered the ball. The City keeper then tipped another Gotze effort onto the bar from close range. City also had their best chance when Zabaleta crossed from the right to find David Silva unmarked who could not divert the ball goalwards. Dortmund again went up the other and forced another great save form Joe Hart as Gundogan’s close range effort was beaten away by the England number 1.

Just one of Joe Harts brilliant saves

The second half started off in the same vein as the first as both sides fashioned early chances in the opening ten minutes. Joe Hart once again pulled off a solid save to deny Dortmund who had the best early chances in the second half as some nice play down the right hand side set up Lewandowski whose shot was parried out for a corner. City were also getting some joy down their right flank as Zabaleta found space to cross but the Dortmund goal was not under any serious threat. City also made an early change, Samir Nasri was withdrawn to be replaced by Aleksander Kolarov. This altered City’s tactics as they went three at the back with Kolarov and Zabaleta moving into more attacking, wing back roles.

However, the breakthrough came for Dortmund as Jack Rodwell lost possession in front of his defence. Marco Reus was quick to pounce on the mistake as he stole in front of Nastasic and ran through on goal, this time he managed to beat Joe Hart with a side foot finish into the far corner to put the German side 0-1 up. Reus was denied a second goal moments later as Joe Hart saved again from close range. City were beginning to look very shaky with three at the back and Mancini seemed was quick to correct his tactical error. Zabaleta moved back to right back to form a four man defence with Clichy, Kompany and Nastasic and Kolarov moving to left midfield. The change in tactics seemed to get City a small foothold in the game and created a chance through Aguero whose square pass in the box just couldn’t find Edin Dzeko.

Marco Reus capitalised on Jack Rodwell’s error to open the scoring

Dortmund were forced into their first change as Mats Hummels had struggled to shake off an earlier knock and was replaced by Felipe Santana on 72 minutes. City were working hard to get back into the game but could not match the work ethic of Dortmund who were hungry for the ball. The German side almost capitalised on their pressure as Lewandowski missed an absolute sitter. A brilliant pass from Gundogan behind the City defence found the Polish striker unmarked, but he couldn’t convert from just outside the six yard box.

Mancini then played his final card as he sent on Mario Balotelli to replace Gael Clichy, Dortmund also made a change sending on local lad Grosskreutz in place of Gundogan. City really struggled to build any sort of meaningful attack in the second half as Dortmund defended very well. However, Weidenfeller made another great save from an Aguero header to hold onto that clean sheet for a little longer. The resulting corner was not cleared by Dortmund and the ball was looped back into the box, Aguero managed to connect with a volley which hit Subotic on the arm. The referee then pointed to the spot, the decision did seem harsh on Subotic at a second glance. However, Balotelli dispatched the penalty with great composure, slotting the ball into the bottom right hand corner as Weidenfeller dived the wrong way.

Balotelli stepped up to score the equalising penalty for City

Joe Hart deserved to get the man of the match award as the England man showed that he is arguably the best keeper in the world at the moment with another fine save from a Robert Lewandowski shot. The momentum seemed to be turning in Manchester City’s favour as the penalty had galvanized the side. They began to show more energy and desire in attack for the final minutes of the match. The end-to-end nature of the game lasted up until the last second as both sides wanted the win but there was not enough time for the deadlock to be broken.

Manchester City once again didn’t reach the levels of performance we saw last season and struggled through the game without really threatening the opposition goal. Dortmund proved to be a strong attacing side and caused Mancni’s men no end of problems at the back. Jurgen Klopp’s team were the better side throughout the game and probably deserved to come away with the victory looking at the chances they had and the run of the game overall. However, nothing is ever certain in football until the final whistle goes and had it not been for Joe Hart I think Dortmund would have won the game convincingly. The game ended 1-1.

By Jamie Allen

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy (Balotelli 81’), J. Garcia (Rodwell 34’), Y. Toure, Nasri (Kolarov 55’), Silva, Aguero, Dzeko

Subs: Pantilmon (GK), Lescott, Kolarov, Milner, Rodwell, Tevez, Balotelli

Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller, Piszczeck, Subotic, Hummels (Felipe Santana 74’), Schmelzer, Gundogan (Grosskreutz 82′), Bender, Gotze, Blaszczykowski, Reus, Lewandowski

Subs: Langerak (GK), Felipe Santana, Kehl, Moritz Leitner, Perisic, Grosskreutz, Schieber

Referee: Pavel Kralovec

Group D

# Team Name P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Real Madrid 2 2 0 0 7 3 +4 6
2 Borussia Dortmund 2 1 1 0 2 1 +1 4
3 Manchester City 2 0 1 1 3 4 –1 1
4 Ajax 2 0 0 2 1 5 –4 0
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