The 2nd game of Manchester City's 2010-11 Europa League campaign takes place tonight at Eastlands, against Italian Serie A side Juventus. City and Juventus are considered two of the strongest sides in the tournament, and just so happened to get drawn in the same group. Each side won their first game (City against Red Bull Salzburg, Juve against Lech Poznan), so a win today means they'd gain a significant foothold on their group.
At this stage of the season, its clear what style City will play in order to be successful. As much as I enjoy free-flowing, attack minded football; you can't argue with results. As the games go by, you can tell that the players are beginning to buy into Roberto Mancini's tactics and in turn Mancini is trusting them. The lack of creativity and goalscoring chances is somewhat troubling, but most nights it will only take one or two markers to see all three points gained.
The key against Juventus, then, is to keep the momentum going from the Chelsea victory. Talismen Carlos Tevez and David Silva will probably not start, though, so City need to find their goals from another source. Adam Johnson must reclaim the form that saw him score twice for England during the international break, and I'll be interested to see if he or Jo can provide good crosses to Emmanuel Adebayor. Players are beginning to return from injury, and so returns City's incredible depth in the midfield and defense. Here's who I'd like to see start on Thursday at Eastlands:
Its my belief that as goes Vincent Kompany and Nigel de Jong, so go the Blues. We felt the impact of their absence in the Carling Cup against West Brom, and I don't think that will happen again. With a tip of the cap to Joe Hart and Carlos Tevez, de Jong and Kompany have been the most valuable players to the campaign so far.
Juventus have some nice players to complement legendary keeper Gianluigi Buffon, but this is a match from which Manchester City should expect a positive result. I expect a cagey opening, but the Blues to ultimately prevail in a 2-0 victory.