He has been praised as the best midfielder in Europe in the last one year. Rodri has been the first name on Pep Guardiola’s team sheet for the better part of two seasons and the Spanish international has been deserving of that honour.
Solid as a rock in front of the back four and always ready to get the team going, initiating attack upon attack as City overload the opponent in the final third, Rodri has been Guardiola’s Mr. Reliable.
And just after helping the team achieve immortality last season by winning the treble, the 27-year-old has started this season where he left off in the last. Or maybe seeking to even outdo his performance. Two goals and an assist in his first five league games of the campaign shows a player ready to make even more headlines.
But definitely not the type he made on Saturday. Manchester City were cruising as expected against Nottingham Forest. The Blues were looking to replicate last season’s 6-0 drubbing of the visitors. Two quickfire goals in the first half set up a mouth-watering second half at the Etihad Stadium.
However, an early scramble for the ball at the corner flag saw the Rodri go head-to-head with Morgan Gibbs-White. In what seemed like an overreaction the City man not only pushed the Forest forward but made to grab his neck, before quickly realizing his mistake.
It was too late.
Referee Anthony Taylor had no other choice than to brandish a red card while Gibbs-White received a yellow for his role in the incident. That changed the complexion of the game.
From dominating the ball as is usually the case and keeping the opponent pinned back all through the first half, the Blues were suddenly on the back foot. The team was defending for most of the second half as Forest made wave upon wave of attack.
A combination of Guardiola’s substitutions and the players putting in extra effort to defend the two-goal lead helped secure the win in the end. What started out as an easy match where the team was coasting to victory suddenly turned into a tough day in the office. The players and manager struggled to reach the finish line.
Thankfully, the team survived the onslaught and came away with not only the three points but a clean sheet. Ederson had to work extra hard for it though.