City 1 - 1 Napoli: Five Thoughts

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Aleksandar Kolarov of Manchester City scores his team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Manchester City and SSC Napoli at the Etihad Stadium on September 14, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

At half-time thoughts were that it would be frustrating should City not go on to win the game, but by the time the full-time whistle sounded City were no doubt happy to end on level terms, thus avoiding what would have been a damaging opening day defeat after a second-half display from a vibrant Napoli that underlined precisely how difficult Group A could shape up to be.

Perhaps a goal from a set piece was the only way in which City would get on the scoresheet tonight. After hitting the woodwork a couple of times, the avalanche of goals seen so far in the Premier League was not forthcoming this evening and City lacked the movement and impetus from the front line as the game wore on. With that in mind, I was surprised that both Carlos Tevez and Adam Johnson were not introduced earlier, and although Samir Nasri was withdrawn, Edin Dzeko was unlucky it was he and not Sergio Aguero who ultimately made way. Expect the first real sign of rotation this Sunday at Fulham.

He made what proved to be a crucial interception in clearing off the line but Vincent Kompany struggled on more than one occasion against the sharpness and precision of the Napoli attack. Perhaps we have become accustomed to his high levels of play but he came off second best at times tonight in what was an uncharacteristically patchy display.

I was impressed with Napoli. I said previously that all sides capable of taking points off each other but the Italians could be a real threat to progression. The vaunted trio sparked rather than shone but quality was evident with Cavani's smart finish and Lavezzi's shot the left Hart stranded and counting his blessings it came back off the bar. The real star from tonight though was Gokan Inler, the summer signing from Udinese, who controlled the second-half and went toe to toe with Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry, after City had controlled the midfield area before the break.

Next up is a trip to Munich to face a Bayern side who opened with a win at Villareal and after dropping points in their opening game City may not have much room to manoevre and in reality will need to avoid defeat in Germany. Roberto Mancini has suggested the players may have been nervous going into tonight's inaugral Champions League game. After a couple of seasons participation in the Europa League it was a reminder of the step up in quality in Europe's elite competition. The Champions League odyssey may be underway but at this point they remain a work in progress.

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