The World Cup has been the centre of attention since the competition kicked off on November 20th. With so many clubs represented at the tournament, Manchester City players have also filed out in their national colours. As is usually the case there have been some shock results. Julian Alvarez’s Argentina lost 2-1 to Saudi Arabia. Ilkay Gundogan suffered same fate with Germany. But Rodri and Aymeric Laporte partnered in defence to help Spain beat Costa Rica 7-0.
So far that has been the biggest scoreline in the tournament and has raised expectations to a higher level for the Spaniards. They are now considered strong favourites for the trophy in Qatar. The players were in free-scoring mode going 3-0 up in the opening half hour of the game.
Crucially, Luis Enrique gave Pep Guardiola some food for thought by partnering Rodri with Laporte at the heart of the Spanish defence. The duo combined effectively, marshalling the defence to keep a clean sheet.
Although this was not the strongest opponent going by the scoreline and they were not put to the test as much as a stronger opponent will do, functioning effectively together showed what is also possible at the Etihad Stadium. Rodri has been in top form for City this season featuring regularly in midfield for the Blues in both the league and the Champions League.
Several City defenders have suffered injuries this season. Laporte started the campaign on the sidelines while all of Ruben Dias, John Stones, Nathan Ake and Kyle Walker have also been injured at some point. With the season still a long way to go, the new experiment gives Guardiola another option he can deploy if or when necessary.
For now though, the players will be looking to solidify the partnership and hope it can help them overcome the big hurdles ahead. Brazil, England and holders France have all emerged as early favourites to go all the way. But having delivered the strongest performances in the first round of matches, Spain and their Man City pair can also be hopeful of glory.