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Aris Salonika 0 - 0 City

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Not necessarily a bad result but somewhat of an opportunity missed you feel.

To take the tie back home all-square is something you would generally take but whilst post-match Roberto Mancini suggested he was pleased with overall result, the performance itself far from enthralled him.

With a flurry of games coming up in both League and Cup over the next couple of weeks there was a feeling that Mancini would want to try and win the tie at the first time of asking, allowing him the scope to rotate in the return leg next week.

As it stands, with the tie level at 0-0 there is no margin for error. Progress will be expected next week but the spectre of an away goal for the Greek side will hang over the game should City not come quickly and hit early.

There were mitigating circumstances of course last night. The majority of the side featured in a tough and draining derby a little over seventy-two hours previously and the Premier League does not come close to dishing up an atmosphere like the one faced from the small but noisy crowd.

Post-game, Mancini also bemoaned the lack of crosses that the side put into the box - particularly when probably the best chance fell to Dzeko, whose header forced the Aris ‘keeper into a smart save - and Adam Johnson's absence may be starting to be felt (which may in part explain the decision to push Aleksandar Kolarov further forward in recent games). His injury has provided an opportunity for Shaun Wright-Phillips, but after a bright showing on Saturday, Mancini was far from impressed with his contribution.

Dzeko once again featured along with Carlos Tevez and David Silva and whilst there were promising moments, there was enough evidence to suggest the settling in period for the Bosnian may be longer than first anticipated (or hoped). The side is not only struggling for victories of late, but the front trio at times has a disjointed feel to it and I have posted before on a number of occasions that moving Tevez wider restricts the marauding aspect of his game.

There was talk that Mancini may look to utilise the pair as a central duo, with David Silva operating/floating behind them and with Adam Johnson on the sidelines this may be an option worth exploring. However, the return of Balotelli could signal a spell on the bench for Dzeko, a luxury Mancini may not have necessarily wanted but may be compelled to use.

The expectation next week though is that the side will progress. Even with a far from full City of Manchester Stadium, the advantage Aris had at home generated by their crowd will be nullified and if City get ahead early, they should have more than enough to close the game out.

A note of caution though: Aris performed well enough on their travels in the Group stages of the competition, defeating Atletico Madrid in Spain, a performance that indicates there will likely be plenty of nerves around next week.