Manchester City routed their German opposition in a game that was rescheduled 24 hours after it was supposed to have been played.
Sergio Aguero scored his second European hat-trick of the season as City strolled to a 4-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach. Kelechi Iheanacho added a fourth to complete a miserable night for the German side.
Here’s what I learned from today’s Champions League game.
Manchester City make mincemeat of top opposition
Pep’s Boys in Blue were irresistible against his supposed bogey team. Guardiola has failed to beat Borussia Mönchengladbach in his last four meetings with the German side yet there was no competition when City rolled up at the Etihad tonight.
Borussia Mönchengladbach are renowned as one of the finest counter-attacking sides in Europe and their game plan was clear from the off. Press high and hard and try and break quickly. But City played around their press brilliantly and Fernandinho and Gundogan roamed forward to create chances at every opportunity. Gundogan especially found himself in dangerous positions several times and did well to draw a foul for Aguero’s penalty. Elsewhere, Raheem Sterling continued his fine form by giving the Borussia right-back an absolutely torrid night. His reverse pass to split Borussia’s defence for the 3rd goal was utterly superb and indicative of the bright, confident spark he’s become.
Borussia were supposed to be a stern test for Manchester City but they were made mince meat of on a showing that proved that City are unstoppable when on form. Teams just can’t live with the pace and movement in this City side and if Pep can sustain that level over 90 minutes then great things could happen at the Etihad stadium this season.
Pep makes another tactical tweak
Pep’s usual 4-3-3 took a different route in possession against Borussia Mönchengladbach. We’ve seen the full-backs tuck into midfield and the full-backs sit next to their center-backs but today we saw something different. Wary of Borussia’s high press, Pep invited asked his full-backs to take turns sitting in midfield with one staying at the back to create a back three with Otamendi and Stones. It was a subtle yet effective adjustment that ensured City always had an extra man in possession. Consequently, Bravo had more options in the build-up and Fernandinho had someone to hold the midfield when he decided to roam forward. So when Borussia stormed up the pitch with four or five men trying to win the ball, City played around them to find huge swathes of space to run into. As a result, Manchester City created more chances and controlled the game offensively and defensively.
Ilkay Gundogan is a perfect replacement for David Silva or Kevin De Bruyne
Ilkay Gundogan marked his debut with a brilliant performance against an opposition he knows full-well. Rather than playing the pivot role as suggested by some, Gundogan started alongside De Bruyne and with a licence to roam and create chances. He nearly scored before he won the penalty and played several pin-point through-balls to Sterling and Aguero. His touch was a little rusty and he didn’t appear to be super sharp but this was his first game in nearly five months so he (and we) can be pleased with his return.
It might be cliché but I can’t imagine Gundogan’s exploits will leave Pep with anything but headaches over who to drop in midfield. Never has a team in the Premier League been blessed with so many amazing options in the middle and it’ll be interesting to see what Pep decides to do when David Silva is back in the squad.