17 Boateng – 28 K. Toure – 33 Kompany – 5 Zabaleta
42 Y. Toure – 24 Vieira – 18 Barry
11 A. Johnson – 32 Tevez
46 – 38 Boyata on for 5 Zabaleta
73 – 21 Silva on for 9 Adebayor
84 – Milner on for 17 Boateng
MANCHESTER CITY 1
A. Johnson 37
Perhaps it’s a reflection of how far Manchester City have come when some quarters consider a draw against Italian giants Juventus a disappointing result. With statistics being reeled off before the game about how the Turin side have conceded the most goals in Serie A, there was a feeling that City should be able to secure three points. The Old Lady may no longer be the side she once was, but the team which showed up at Eastlands is still an impressive outlet, in particular the lively Milos Krasic and the evergreen Alessandro Del Piero. What ensued was a tactical battle, a true chessboard encounter, and whilst Roberto Mancini’s side dominated possession, they were often clueless about what to do with it. A more inventive midfield could have been the difference for City as well as a sharper Emmanuel Adebayor who – whilst his work-rate was faultless – struggled with his touches, particularly in the first half.
Mancini made four changes to the side that secured victory over Chelsea. Adam Johnson featured on the right-wing, Patrick Vieira lined up against his former team, Jerome Boateng made his first start for City and Adebayor returned up front. Carlos Tevez played down the left to accommodate the Togolese striker and the Argentine put in a tireless performance, sitting back to create chances. One of his first-half crosses was headed on to the post by Gareth Barry and Johnson’s attempt at a rebound was saved by Alex Manninger. His clinical presence in the box was greatly missed, however, and throughout the game it appeared that there was something lacking between the attack and midfield.
City looked confident in possession but their build up play was often slow and there was a tendency to pass the ball between them rather than attempting to create chances. The Italians seemed happy to keep men behind the ball and the low tempo of the home side’s game allowed them to do so effectively.
It was Mancini’s side who had the first chance with a long-range strike from Boateng going wide. After this, however, Juventus dominated the first half-hour of the game and they went ahead on 10 minutes with a fortunate but impressive 30-yard effort from Vincenzo Iaquinta which took the slightest of touches off Kolo Toure. City looked sluggish but the Italians appeared content to sit on their lead. Johnson, who added flair and trickery to his side, managed to get more into the game and it was the winger who brought them back on level terms. The move leading up to the goal proved that when City are creative, they can be devastatingly effective. Yaya Toure spotted Johnson’s run and played a beautiful penetrating pass to the Englishman who sidestepped the goalkeeper to score.
For the final eight minutes of the half, the home team responded to the buoyant crowd and upped their game, Tevez in particular, tearing down the left. The whistle perhaps came too soon and although Brian Kidd admitted that for the second half, City would: “Look for runs off the ball,” they were not able to reach the same level. Barry and Adebayor both had chances midway through the half, the latter heading well wide from a Tevez cross. After that both sides began to relax and in the end, Del Piero could have stolen it for the Italians as his late free-kick hit the cross-bar and bounced on the line.
Juventus’ celebrations at the end suggested they were relieved to get an away point against a team worth £132m. Whilst this may have been a better result for the Italians, it was by no means a bad one for City. Mancini described himself as ‘confident’ after the game and if his team continue to gel, and be more clinical and resourceful in midfield, fans will have every right to be too.