MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 18: Yaya Toure (R) Manchester City FC duels for the ball with Michael Essien (L) of Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League group D match between Real Madrid and Manchester City FC at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 18, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
The match report is up here so just a quick Five Thoughts to recap last nights defeat:
Undoubtedly, there are positives to be taken from the game. A comparison can be made to last years trip to Munich where City, after a bright spell at the start, were outplayed for the remainder of the game. Real were the stronger side early, played with greater penetration and were more incisive as City struggled to settle. However, they settled into the game and tie took the lead against a side who were the concensus pick to lift the trophy this season, almost adding to their lead through both Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta. Whilst under pressure for the most part, the way they were able to counter this bodes well for the remainder of the group with their toughest fixture out of the way early.
We shouldn't be too over enthusiastic with the self-congratulation however. Issues with concentration permeated last season tournament and have crept into City's play early in this season too. Granted not many sides will twice take the lead in the Bernabeu but to not only twice lose the lead but then concede a later winner is a huge blow to the side. As Joe Hart put it post-game: "You can't go up 2-1 with five minutes to go and lose the game. Who else can we blame. We can only blame ourselves." Given the position City put themselves in, the very least they should have taken from the game was a point.
Yaya Toure appears to get better and better. With just Carlos Tevez up front he began the game in the advanced position before dropping deeper when both Samir Nasri and David Silva were withdrawn. With City struggling to create his forays forward helped generate some much needed momentum and pressure for City here little else was being created. With Nasri forced off through injury and Silva still finding his feet this season he was the key driver for the side and of course created the opening goal of the game for Edin Dzeko.
There were concerns throughout last seasons competition that defensively City had not been good enough and although we talk up the positives, this was an area that does not appear to have improved. Including the Community Shield, City have played six games this season and have failed to keep a clean sheet. Tonight, they conceded 35 shots on goal (although only 12 were on target) and in my look at scoring chances they conceded 15 to Real, worryingly with a number of errors contributing to these. Joleon Lescott was left out this evening and although Matija Nastasic looked assured enough for a nineteen year old debutant, the form of Vincent Kompany continues to be a concern. City are grouped with sides who possess plenty of attacking threat and need to resolve these issues fast.
In the Groups other game, Borussia Dortmund defeated Ajax 1-0 in Germany. Not surprise result (and I expect Ajax at the bottom of Group D) but it does mean a greater emphasis on the next group game that sees City host the German Champions. They follow this with back to back games against Ajax and ahead of the group kicking off it as these three fixtures that you felt City needed to pick up maximum points from to leave matters in their own hands (as Dortmund play Real back to back during this time) heading into the final two games.