Manchester City

Man City’s defensive frailties were illuminated by £31.5m-rated star’s performance against Basel

The Manchester City fans were delighted in the Transfer Tavern on Tuesday night after their side took a huge step towards the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a 4-0 win over FC Basel at St. Jakob Park. 

Manchester City were in typically imperious form in the first-leg of their last-sixteen encounter against Basel on Tuesday night, and their 4-0 victory all but confirmed they will be in the hat for the quarter-final draw. Ilkay Gundogan stole the show for The Citizens as he scored a wonderful header to open the scoring following a Kevin De Bruyne corner and he completed the scoring with a sumptuous effort from the edge of the area in the second-half.

Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero each added fine strikes of their own in-between Gundogan’s goals to ensure City will be in cruise control at The Etihad Stadium in three weeks time. However, the tie could have taken a completely different turn if Basel had been more clinical in the early endeavours of the game and been correctly awarded a penalty after a foul from Nicolas Otamendi.

Since the beginning of the season, Otamendi has been by far City’s most improved player this season, as his performances at the heart of defence have been pivotal to their success at both ends of the pitch. The Argentine has cut out the rash mistakes that characterised his form last season, whilst he has also adopted the role of a low-key deep-lying playmaker at times this season to great effect.

However, the defensive errors that so regularly crept into his game last season appear to be emerging again of late. Otamendi looked sloppy and error-prone against Leicester last weekend, and he looked far from his best once again last night.

The most worrying aspect for the supporters was his poor defensive positioning which allowed Basel to easily run in behind City’s defence on more than one occasion in the first half. Otamendi made arguably his most foolish mistake with the scores tied at 0-0, as he intentionally body-checked Basel’s Dimitri Oberlin inside the box and was extremely fortunate to avoid conceding a penalty.

Otamendi failed to correctly adjust his body for the one vs one situation he found himself in on the right-hand side of the penalty area, and the ease at which Oberlin skipped past City’s defender will have been noted by Europe’s heavyweight clubs. The 30-year-old ever-present may have escaped unpunished on this occasion, but he must stamp out those kind of fundamental errors in the later rounds of the competition if City wish to claim Europe’s greatest club trophy this season.


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