Red Bull Salzburg 0 - 2 City

A very comfortable start to the Europa League campaign.

An away trip to a Salzburg side had the potential to be a stern test to open up Group A, but a combination of a very good performance from City coupled with a lackadaisical offering from the hosts meant the game was not much a contest once David Silva slotted home eight minutes in.

It was a performance on par with the victory over Liverpool. Controlled in possession, fluid in midfield, and defensively solid, it was an indication that the side - unlike on recent forays into Europe - is ready for the challenge of European competition and won't be caught out by a lack of experience or naivety. Particularly with a manager who is no stranger to navigating through the group stages.

But as good as the team performance was, it will be Silva who receives the plaudits. Handed just five minutes of action in the frustrating draw against Blackburn, Silva's absence was questioned but Mancini defended his continued sidelining before announcing he would start in Austria. And perhaps Mancini timed his introduction to perfection.

Playing at the head of a four man midfield - with Gareth Barry also restored with wide men Adam Johnson and Shaun Wright-Phillips dropping to the bench - Silva was creative, inventive and possessed a very good touch. His movement looked to be good and he showed a good understanding with Carlos Tevez.

The formation meant a more narrow look with a very central trio of de Jong, Barry and Yaya Toure, but there was certainly no lack of width as the front pair (and Silva) were all prepared to move wide, and with Wayne Bridge and Pablo Zabaleta in the line-up, it meant there was more inclination from the full-backs to get forward than we have seen so far this season.

What it did mean was that there was very little space or time for Salzburg to play the ball through midfield, and City dominated this area. However, I was tweeted at half-time and asked what Yaya Toure's role was and it is true to say he looked crowded for space, with de Jong performing the defensive role well, Silva advanced and Gareth Barry full of energy. I do wonder if part of a central two would get the most out of him.

Having started at Tottenham in more of a wide role, Silva (although far fitter and match ready) was far more effective centrally, and he is a real threat joining the attack from deep. The only question around Silva is quite where you fit him into the 4-5-1 formation that Mancini usually favours.

There were no problems fitting into the 4-4-2 deployed this evening however, and opting for two up front meant a recall for Jo. Primarily reduced to joke status, he performed capably enough this evening and found himself in several good positions. Often though he was a little off the pace (perhaps understandably) but he got reward for his contribution when he added the second goal on the hour mark.

It was, of course, his first goal for two years but Mancini does appear to place some value on him and if the goal is a catalyst for a run of form from Jo it would certainly be some reclamation project.

Tevez was of course his usual tireless self, darting across the front line and positioned himself well but failed to get on the scoresheet despite a couple of good opportunities. He has tended to go through patches where things don't quite click in front of goal for him and there is a worry that the extra work he is going to be given due to the lack of options could weight heavy. Maybe then there is a case for Jo, and I certainly don't expect to see Tevez at The Hawthorns in the Carling Cup next week.

Ten points is usually the benchmark to ensure progression from the group stages so three points from the first group game is an excellent foundation to build on, particularly with the other game in the group ending in a wild 3-3 draw. The next two fixtures are both at home - first Juventus, then Lech Poznan, and a return of four points from that pair of fixtures would put one foot in the knock out stages.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Bitter and Blue

You must be a member of Bitter and Blue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bitter and Blue. You should read them.

Join Bitter and Blue

You must be a member of Bitter and Blue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bitter and Blue. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker