David Silva

Phil Foden
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‘Clinical’ Foden wows as Man City lifts another trophy

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Phil Foden has been waiting for this moment.

It isn’t a coincidence that the 19-year-old was right next to David Silva when Man City’s captain lifted the League Cup trophy on Sunday, its third-straight triumph in the tournament.

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Foden was front and center on the pitch, too, putting in a Man of the Match shift in what may one day be looked upon as his coming out party.

Yes, Foden’s made 60 senior appearances for City, scoring 10 goals with nine assists.

And yes, the “Stockport Iniesta” has a match-winning goal in City’s incredible run to the Premier League final last season.

But Sunday showed his incredible potential is bubbling above the surface.

Man City manager Pep Guardiola kept it concise, saying “Phil was clinical.”

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Foden completed 90 percent of his passes including two key passes. He completed three of four dribbles, won 7 of 10 duels, and made an interception to go with two tackles (stats via SofaScore).

That says nothing of his ability to move the ball in tight spaces before finding a safe outlet.

Wonderful from a kid who’s still a teenager until May 28.

“The day before, in training, the manager was working on tactics,” Foden said, via the BBC. “I couldn’t wait to play. It was an unbelievable day.

“When I play, every minute counts, so I try and do my best and I’m very proud of my performance today. You look at players like Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, who are great, so when I get into the team I have to make the most of it.”

Foden could’ve already become critical if enough Man City players leave this summer because of the UEFA Champions League ban, but it may happen sooner.

Guardiola has often been quizzed on Foden, and has shown a lot of patience. But Foden showed the full skill set on Sunday, not missing a beat. He could’ve potted a couple of goals, but we doubt anyone will be worried about that.

Sunday was his day.

Three things we learned: Real Madrid v. Man City

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Man City beat Real Madrid 2-1 in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg in the Santiago Bernabeu as Pep Guardiola‘s tactical masterclass left Zinedine Zidane scratching his head.

After Isco gave Real an undeserved lead, Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne struck late on to make it 2-1 as the reigning Premier League champions take a crucial lead back to Manchester for the second leg.

Here’s a look at what we learned from a superb away display from Man City as they sealed their first-ever win against Real Madrid.


GUARDIOLA’S BOLD CHOICE PAYS OFF

Sometimes it seems like Pep Guardiola is too smart for his own good but this is why they pay him the big bucks. Man City’s manager left the experienced trio of Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Fernandinho on the bench alongside the fit-again Raheem Sterling and everyone was left scratching their heads with his team selection. Pep’s bold choice paid off. Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva operated as two false nines centrally, while Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus played out wide and did plenty of tracking back as they pinned back Real’s wingers and full backs.

Mahrez and Jesus would make runs in-behind Real’s defense whenever KDB and Bernardo got on the ball and it worked a treat. The only problem was that Mahrez and Jesus only took one of the big chances they were handed because they could have scored four or five. Guardiola’s side conceded after being undone by a sloppy defensive error which epitomizes their 2019-20 campaign but Pep’s bold choice paid off. Man City were the better, and more dangerous, team for vast swathes of this game and got the away win his ingenuity deserved. The decision to sacrifice the positioning of his two best playmakers in Bernardo and De Bruyne worked a treat as the displays of Mahrez and Jesus justified leaving Aguero and Sterling on the bench. Man City’s master tactician risked being ridiculed and labelled as an over-thinker once again. It was a risk which paid off.


REAL’S ATTACK ONE-DIMENSIONAL

Zinedine Zidane was without the injured Eden Hazard, while Gareth Bale started on the bench and there was a severe lack of creativity in the attacking third of the pitch. Karim Benzema lead the line and had one header on target in the first half but that was about it as he had 18 touches in the entire game. 18. Vinicius and Isco both failed to get the better of the Kyle Walker and Mendy respectively and without that extra spark Hazard or Bale could provide at the drop of a hat, Zidane’s side were predictable.

Real caused their own problems as Casemiro was the spare man and precision passing isn’t his best trait as City were dangerous on the counter. Real Madrid were timid and rigid and that isn’t something you’d expect from a Zinedine Zidane-side on a big European night like this. Zidane has made Real more pragmatic this season and Vinicius and Isco did make the most of a Man City defensive error to put the Spanish giants ahead before two late goals from Jesus and De Bruyne gave Man City the edge heading into the second leg. Real will need to take more chances at the Etihad and as their defensive display showed on Wednesday, they are not capable of shutting down City’s attack and Sergio Ramos will not play in the second leg due to his red card. Real are in big trouble and for once their failure to go all-out for the win cost them dear. That is very unlike Real.


DE BRUYNE LEADS DEFIANT CITY

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Kevin de Bruyne wore the captains armband with class in the Bernabeu and he was the beating heart and pulsating brain of this composed, yet brave, victory.

“We are only halfway there,” De Bruyne said afterwards.

With Aguero, David Silva and Raheem Sterling left on the bench, all eyes were on KDB and he delivered. He played as a false nine but instead of shrugging his shoulders playing in an unfamiliar role he embraced it and could be seen cajoling his teammates and demanding more in key moments.

De Bruyne’s display summed up his season so far: Brilliant.

His mood also summed up the defiance in Man City’s display as they lost Aymeric Laporte to injury and Fernandinho stepped in and made key blocks, while Ederson was also at his best as City’s defense only slipped up once. With a two-season European ban looming large, this City squad know this could be their last chance to win the European Cup until the summer 2023 when many of them won’t be around. Kevin de Bruyne would be coming up to 32 years of age then, if he is still at City. The defiance he and City’s squad played with proved they want to win the Champions League right now and put the UEFA ban to one side as their appeal is heard in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in the coming months.

 

Premier League Preview: Leicester City v. Man City

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  • Leicester (50 points) sit 3rd in PL table
  • Man City (54) sit 2nd after catching Foxes
  • Last meeting: Man City 3-1 Leicester

Barring arguably the greatest collapse in sports history, Liverpool will win the 2019-20 Premier League title and do so in exceedingly comfortable fashion, but who will finish second behind what could down as the statistically greatest side in PL history? That’s up to Leicester City and Manchester City, who are set to face off with one another on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and NBCSports.com), to settle between themselves.

It’s been an unprecedentedly tumultuous week for Man City, who found out last Friday that they had been banned from European competition for two seasons. In their first on-field action since the ban was announced, Pep Guardiola’s side dispatched West Ham United with a 2-0 victory on Wednesday, but the overall mood around the Etihad Stadium was particularly sour and vitriolic. Saturday will mark City’s first away fixture since the ban came down from UEFA, and the two-time defending PL champions are likely to receive a largely disparaging welcome inside from home fans at the King Power Stadium.

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On the other side of the equation, injuries and suspensions to midfielders are the most challenging hurdle for Brendan Rodgers‘ side this weekend. Wilfred Ndidi (knee) and Daniel Amartey (ankle) were already set to miss Saturday’s game through injury before Hamza Choudhury picked up a red card in the Foxes’ scoreless draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers last Friday. Now, Rodgers is without a recognizable defensive midfielder to face a side featuring the creative nous of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva.

Injuries/suspensions

Leicester: OUT – Wilfred Ndidi (knee), Hamza Choudhury (suspension), Daniel Amartey (ankle), Matty James (fitness), Nampalys Mendy (knee)

Man City: OUT – Raheem Sterling (hamstring), Leroy Sane (knee)


Projected lineups

Leicester: Schmeichel — Pereria, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell — Tielemans, Praet, Maddison — Perez, Vardy, Barnes

Man City: Ederson — Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Mendy — Rodrigo, De Bruyne, Silva — Bernard, Aguero, Jesus


What they’re saying

James Maddison, on the battle for second: “We’ve just got to win as many games as possible. Unlike last year, this year, I think we’ve shown we can beat the teams on paper that the experts say we should beat, and we’ve also taken points against big teams as well, the so called ‘top -six.’ We’ve got a good balance of games going into the end of the season, starting on Saturday, and we’ll treat the Man City game just like we’ll treat the Norwich game next Friday. It’s about, especially at this time of the season, accumulating as many points as possible.”

Guardiola, on his team’s commitment: “This team showed overall determination the last two seasons like no other club has done. Four domestic titles last season and we’ve won seven of the last eight competitions we played. It’s almost impossible. But the desire is always there. I don’t think we are going to do something special because they have this inside of themselves to do this regardless. I am working with exceptional players; I have the feeling they follow us 100 percent.


Prediction

Given their recent form, injuries and suspensions all piling up at once, Leicester’s race appears to have been run as far as a second-place challenge is concerned. Man City showed little sign of being distracted by off-field matters when they beat West Ham, and that should remain the usual service from here on out. Leicester 1-3 Man City

De Bruyne’s magic leads Man City past West Ham

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MANCHESTER — In the first game after being banned from European action by UEFA for two seasons, Man City eased past West Ham United 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday as they recorded an eighth-straight Premier League win against the Hammers.

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In a rearranged game from Matchweek 26 after Storm Ciara called the original clash off, Pep Guardiola‘s side dominated from start to finish. Rodri headed home Kevin De Bruyne‘s corner in the first half and the Belgian wizard scored the second on his own in the second half as the Hammers barely threatened.

Anti-UEFA chants were heard throughout from the home fans who witnessed a routine win after a tough few days for everyone connected with Man City.

The win keeps City in second place on 54 points, four points ahead of third-place Leicester City, but they are 22 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool. David Moyes‘ West Ham remain in serious trouble and occupy the final relegation spot on 24 points and are one point from safety.


3 things we learned

1. Defiant atmosphere in first game since ban: There were the predictable chants against UEFA and City’s fans and players were in a defiant mood. They meant business and even though Guardiola was irate with a few missed chances by Gabriel Jesus and loose passes, he will have been pleased with their reaction after all of the negativity around the club over the last week. Maybe Man City will use the uncertainty around their European future to finish the season with a flourish?

2. De Bruyne’s brilliance hard to stop: All season long KDB has been like this. The Belgian ace was in sublime form, pulling all the strings in his 78 minutes on the pitch as he was subbed off and given a standing ovation. If it wasn’t for Liverpool’s historic season he would win the Player of the Year award and his precision passing, driving runs and clever flicks were the difference. Not only was he quality in attack but he also ran back to win the ball off Michail Antonio at a pivotal moment. De Bruyne has been touted as the first player to leave Man City if their European ban is upheld but this display suggests he is fully committed.

3. West Ham’s lack of ambition sums up their season: As good as Man City were, West Ham lacked any ambition and since David Moyes returned his debut win against Bournemouth has proved to be a false dawn. The Hammers are in 18th place, are winless in six PL games and have the worst form in the league over the past nine outings. Antonio was their only hope on the counter and they showed no interest in attacking despite being 2-0 down. Sure, they were playing Man City but West Ham have 12 games to get themselves out of the bottom three and their next six see them play Liverpool, Southampton, Arsenal, Wolves, Tottenham and Chelsea. Ouch.

Man of the Match: Kevin de Bruyne – When isn’t he Man of the Match these days? Despite City being miles away from Liverpool throughout this season the Belgian playmaker has been fit and on fire.


Jesus, starting on the left, had the first big chance as he went clean through on goal but instead of having a shot cut back around Fabianski and lost the chance to open the scoring.

Aguero had the next chance as he used the outside of his right boot to bend a shot just wide of the post.

De Bruyne’s deflected shot was saved by Fabianski’s leg and then Jesus had his shot blocked by Aaron Cresswell when he looked certain to score. Aguero felt he should have had a penalty kick after being grabbed by Angelo Ogbonna in the ground but he was flagged offside. However, replays showed that was incorrect and Guardiola was not happy on the sidelines.

Wave after wave of Man City attack pinned West Ham back in the first half as Michail Antonio cut a lonely figure up top for the Hammers. Eventually City took the lead from a corner as De Bruyne whipped in a delicious set piece to the near post and Rodri flicked home a wonderful header to make it 1-0.

David Silva and Jesus almost doubled their lead just before the break as City totally dominated but Antonio whipped in a dangerous cross to give the hosts a warning.

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The second half saw West Ham have a bit more luck on the break but Man City continued to look the more dangerous as Aguero flashed a shot inches wide which rolled along the touchline and was only kept in play as a ball boy mistakenly fetched the ball before it went out of play.

There was a lengthy delay as Ryan Fredericks was carried off the pitch and replaced by Pablo Zabaleta, as the Man City legend received a standing ovation from the home fans.

Moments after that City doubled their lead as De Bruyne played the ball into Bernardo Silva who flicked it around the corner and KDB ran onto it before smashing home at the near post.

Fabianski then saved from Jesus as Man City eased to victory with West Ham so far off the pace it was scary.

Watch Live: Man City v. West Ham

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Manchester City looks for a reaction in its first match after the UEFA sanctions were announced as they host West Ham at the Etihad on Wednesday (Watch live at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Citizens will want to finish this season strong given the future uncertainty surrounding the club, and with Leicester City nipping at their heels, a strong performance will be imperative. Man City sits just a single point above the third-placed Foxes and a poor result could leave them vulnerable for when the two meet on Saturday.

[ STREAM LIVE: Man City v. West Ham ]

Man City’s lineup sees John Stones, Ilkay Gundogan, and Fernandinho all sat on the bench. Nicolas Otamendi partners with Aymeric Laporte at the back with Rodri covering them in midfield. Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva start in the middle with Bernardo Silva in the attacking midfield role, while Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero both start up front.

The match is massively important for West Ham as well, with the Hammers sitting 18th in the Premier League table a point off safety. The Hammers counter Man City’s attacking lineup with three at the back as Declan Rice provides cover per usual and captain Mark Noble partners with Tomas Soucek in midfield.

LINEUPS

Man City: Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Mendy; Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva; Bernardo, Jesus, Aguero.

West Ham: Fabianski; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Masuaku; Rice, Soucek, Noble; Snodgrass, Antonio.