Rodri

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Manchester City handles pesky Dinamo Zagreb

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Dominant Manchester City had to work for its Raheem Sterling-finished breakthrough in a 2-0 defeat of Dinamo Zagreb in UEFA Champions League play on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Sterling scored and assisted Phil Foden‘s stoppage time goal, as City took 1,025 touches to the visitors’ 392. Dinamo Zagreb completed just 53 percent of their passes, were out shot 20-2, and had just 19 percent possession.

City now has six points, and has beaten both of the teams in the group who boast wins. A pair of matches with winless Atalanta are next.


Three things we learned

1. Zagreb frustrates with five (plus) at the back: City had more than 80 percent of the ball and almost all of the shot attempts, but the persistent and well-drilled visitors proved difficult to break down.

2. Rodri and Gundogan rule the roost: While Man City’s forwards to their time to find footing, Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan were very strong in the midfield. Gundogan completed 113 of his 120 passes, while Rodri converted 116 of 126 passes (92 percent) including a sensational “hockey assist” on Sterling’s opener.

Again, let’s do the math: 229 completed passes between two midfielders. Outstanding.

3. Super sub Sterling supplies breakthrough: The winner was very much a team goal, as Sterling had been in the game for less than 10 minutes when he took a pass from Riyad Mahrez to make it 1-0.

And to combine points Nos. 2 and 3, how about that scything pass from Rodri

Man of the Match: Rodri — He looks the absolute correct piece for City’s midfield puzzle (which was already pretty darn good).


Gundogan cranked a shot off the woodwork, and City later had a goal taken off the board due to Sergio Aguero handling in the build-up.

Dinamo goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic made two first half saves including a very promising opportunity for Aguero.

The frustrations of only producing a single goal despite myriad chances got to Pep Guardiola, who was shown a yellow card for dissent.

Joao Cancelo was a particularly bright spot for City, whipping in crosses and zipping about the right side.

Sterling’s goal came when Rodri fed Mahrez, a relative bright spot, into the left of the box. A cut back was blasted home by the England winger.

Foden subbed into the game and scored inside of the four minutes stoppage time.

Man City midfield controls Shakhtar in Ukraine

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Manchester City got its UEFA Champions League run off to a convincing start, easing some nerves from the weekend with a 3-0 defeat of Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan set each other up for goals, Gabriel Jesus also scored, and Fernandinho partnered with Nicolas Otamendi at center back to earn the clean sheet.


Three things we learned

1. Midfield runs the match: Center backs aren’t all that vital if the ball never gets to them, and Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri were exceptional (even with the latter taking an early yellow card). Rodri completed every single one of his 82 passes in helping City control the park, departing with less than a quarter-hour to play. Pep Guardiola had a lot of love for Gundogan’s day.

2. De Bruyne dangerous on an off day: Kevin De Bruyne just couldn’t find that final ball, constantly in dangerous areas but unable to execute that moment. Credited with three key passes including th, his shooting was the glaring difference between 3-0 and 5-0.

3. Shakhtar shows creative flair: Taison and Marlos both showed a knack for taking on defenders, each credited with four dribbles on the day. It was Shakhtar’s best chance to break down a disciplined City, and the closest the hosts came to succeeding on the day.

Man of the Match: Rodri


A Kevin De Bruyne free kick provided an early threat, but Rodri’s header was a bit off and unable to open the scoring in Ukraine.

Shakhtar then had a nice spell of possession, but City was up to the task. Rodri led a chance in the other direction and sent a ball back De Bruyne for a header, which was wide like the first.

Mahrez put City ahead on a rebound after Ilkay Gundogan took a Gabriel Jesus feed and pushed the ball off the post.

The Algerian didn’t need a post to return the favor, sending a delightful pass into the path of Gundogan for a smooth finish an 2-0.

De Bruyne finally got his assist when he took care of a bounding ball to Jesus for a chop into the goal.

Community Shield preview: Man City v. Liverpool

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It’s rare that Pep Guardiola shows if his feathers are ruffled, but Friday saw the Manchester City manager rebel against criticism from Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

The Reds’ manager has continuously downplayed Liverpool’s spending power as Liverpool has failed to land a marquee target this summer, pointing to Man City and Paris Saint-Germain as clubs who can spend every window.

[ MORE: Newcastle adds Ligue 1 stat star ]

And Guardiola, who was outspent by Klopp last season, admits that the comments got under his skin. From The Manchester Evening News:

“It bothers me. Of course it bothers me, because it’s not true that we spend £200million in every transfer market,” said Guardiola. “That is not true. So it’s Liverpool, you’ll never walk alone, so it’s not a small team. It’s Liverpool. So of course I don’t like it, because it’s not true.”

Klopp, it must be said, has had trouble giving consistent answers about the summer, beginning the window with an admission that he was wrong in saying big transfer fees would not become the norm.

And Liverpool has not been playing well in the run-up to Sunday’s Community Shield against City. The lack of goals isn’t a major surprise given that preseason has mostly lacked Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino, but the Reds are also defending poorly.

All are back for the Shield fight, and City will only be missing Fernandinho who is still building back to fitness after Brazil’s Copa America run.

And Pep is ready, perhaps with a little extra fire from Klopp under an engine which is always running pretty hot anyway.

The thrillers between Man City and Liverpool get a new twist this season with the former’s addition of Rodri, who looks every bit the player for a Guardiola system.

He, as well as the dogged legs of Liverpool’s trident, will probably be the difference on Sunday if City scoops up its first bit of silverware.

Sunday’s match-up will also show us how far this rivalry has come in recent seasons, as it certainly has the feel of a barometer match for the 2019-20 campaign. Who will lay claim to the shield: the Champions League victors or the domestic treble winners?

Man City break transfer record to sign Rodri

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Manchester City have spent a club-record $79 million to buy Rodri from Atletico Madrid.

The Spanish defensive midfielder, 23, has officially arrived at City after Atleti confirmed on Wednesday that the reigning Premier League champions had paid his release clause.

[ MORE: Lampard arrives at Chelsea

Rodri has signed a five-year contract and is the long-term replacement for City’s midfield lynchpin Fernandinho. The former Villarreal star is seen as one of the top holding midfielders in the world, with his exceptional passing, interceptions and tackling ability key to his game.

Speaking about his arrival at City, Rodri is looking forward to working with Pep Guardiola as they go for a PL three-peat.

“What City have achieved in the last two years has been amazing and I’m looking forward to being part of such a talented squad,” Rodri said. “It’s not just the titles they have won, but the way they have managed it, playing attacking football at all times. I can’t wait to start working with Pep Guardiola and my new team-mates and hopefully we can achieve great things together. It’s a style that excites me, as do the Club’s ambitions.”

Rodri only joined Atletico from Villarreal last summer for $25 million, so the La Liga side have done pretty well out of this deal.

City have gone about their business very quietly this summer, and this was a key area they needed to address.

When Fernandinho was out injured last season they badly missed his presence in midfield as the likes of Fabian Delph, Ilkay Gundogan and David Silva struggled to hold down the defensive midfield role.

Rodri’s passing ability is undoubted and the lanky midfielder is very much the heir apparent to Sergio Busquets as the best defensive midfielder around.

With City signing former left back Angelino after his impressive season at PSV Eindhoven, they have already addressed their top two needs in the transfer market. Right back Joao Cancelo could also join from Juventus, as City’s attacking depth is clear for all to see, although Sergio Aguero can’t go on forever and another option up top aside from Gabriel Jesus may be handy.

If Guardiola’s side can add another center back this summer then they should be pretty much set for the new season as they aim to go one better than winning three trophies and complete the quadruple they wanted to badly last season.

Rodri will be a key piece in Guardiola’s jigsaw for many years to come.

Transfer rumor roundup: Neymar for Coutinho plus cash? Dembele to Liverpool?

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The rumors are plenty to finish the work week, so let’s dive right into the buzz around the Premier League summer.

The Rodri-to-City reports have been long-running, but that didn’t stop another team from trying a 23rd hour move for the Atletico Madrid midfielder.

Kicker in Germany reports that Bayern Munich tried to swoop into the picture and snatch the player away from Man City, but that Rodri remains sold on working with Pep Guardiola and the Premier League champions.

Barcelona’s hopes of acquiring Neymar for far less than what some say could be a $300 million transfer fee involves a part-swap deal.

AS says that Barca would offer Paris Saint-Germain $100 million plus Philippe Coutinho in exchange for Neymar’s services.

Given Neymar’s injury history and off-field issues, maybe PSG will jump at that and use the $100 million on one of the many players linked with the club this offseason. From Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi to Real’s James Rodriguez, that money would be useful.

And Barca is going to be selling any number of players this offseason, but would you believe they’d admit failure in the case of Ousmane Dembele?

Don Balon reports that Liverpool of all teams is ready to spend nearly $170 million on Dembele, giving them at-worst insurance and at-best a replacement for any moves made by Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah (who are widely reported as happy at Anfield).

Finally, Sky Sports says Inter Milan’s action on Romelu Lukaku could not happen until June 30 when Financial Fair Play sanctions relax on the Serie A unit.

United apparently wants around $90 million for the Belgian striker, while Inter is hoping to spend a little more than half of that figure.

Inter would also, Sky says, have to sell Mauro Icardi and there’s been little interest in the prolific but controversial striker. Not a huge surprise.