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City Vs Roma: Lack of midfield control or something more?

Poor result in important game was due to lack of control in midfield or was there something more?

Laurence Griffiths

Much has been said on City’s performance, especially the tactics of Manuel Pellegrini – most significantly, having a two striker system giving City no control in midfield. I try to comprehend if a poor result came from lack of control in midfield or was there something more which contributed?

Lets get some bare number’s:

Total Shots: 14 – very good.

Shots on Target: 1

Yes, you read it correctly, ONE.

That’s, 7% SOT ratio! Disastrous!

(*Non penalty stats)

Now this could be for one of four reasons:

  1. City didn’t shoot well
  2. City didn’t penetrate well
  3. Roma defended like their lives depended on it
  4. All

Let’s take a closer look at locations from which City took their shots, categorizing it on each half:

Shot locations for each half

Inside box

Outside Box


First Half




Second Half




1st HALF:

1st half: Shot locations

In first half, contrary to perception, not only did City created healthy stream of chances inside the 30 yards box (4 apart of penalty shot) but they were in very good locations too.

Let’s take a closer look at these 4 inside-the-box chances:

Analyzing Inside box shots of 1st half






Good opportunity, poor shot



Good opportunity, good defending



Fantastic opportunity, poor shot placement (bit of badluck too?)



Difficult opportunity

It would be fair to say that though City lacked control but made the most of the ball they had, created good chances and can rue their own poor shooting (can only address "internal reason").

2nd HALF

2nd half: Shot location

In second half, City replaced attacking Dzeko & Navas for Milner & Lampard. The strengthened midfield eventually gave more control & probably stopped Roma from scoring again.

But if "chances created" is anything to go by, midfield control came at heavy expense of penetration - City created just 2 chances from inside the box & just ONE shot on target.

City ended the game with 5 midfielders & most fans were bewildered why a similar formation wasn’t used from start of game.

But did we shoot good enough? Did we create good enough chances? The new midfield setup was good enough to stop us from losing the game, but was it good enough to get us a win? Was it just tactics which cost us the game or personnel let us down?

Tactics are as good as its implementation & we can never take away responsibility of players. Core of this team now have good experience to play as a team & in Champions League and at their individual level, we can’t absolve them of their responsibility to show mental & performance progress.

Pellegrini’s midfield formation is widely questioned, but his other area’s need a deliberation too: Benefit of hindsight, but was Mangala the answer to counter pace of Gervinho? Are Pellegrini & Yaya on same bandwidth as far as Yaya’s defensive expectations are concerned? Even with 5 midfielders, should penetration be really a hindrance?

Pot 1, Pot 2, Pot 3….

Coefficient system has not benefitted City & we have most times encountered big teams in group stages. However, asking for automatic Pot 1 on merit of being league champions is, in our case, asking for crutches for competing in 100 meters race. To go deep in Champions League, we need to beat the best & we are far from doing it, yet.

On a separate & positive note, how good is this guy?

This was one of best chances City created & it was all brilliance of Jovetic. City fans can just hope, and pray, to see him more.

Jovetic's creativity