Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur had contrasting evenings in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
Patience was the key for Pep Guardiola’s dominant side as they eventually saw off Dinamo Zagreb 2-0.
Spurs, meanwhile, were thrashed 7-2 by Bayern Munich – although that doesn’t quite tell the full story of the match.
We discuss the implications that the ties could have for our Fantasy teams in the Scout Notes article below.
Manchester City 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb
- Goals: Raheem Sterling (£12.1m), Phil Foden (£5.2m)
- Assists: Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m), Sterling
Pep Guardiola provided some reassuring news regarding the severity of Kevin De Bruyne‘s (£10.0m) groin injury after Manchester City’s 2-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb – although stopped short of declaring the widely owned premium midfielder fit for Gameweek 8.
Speaking after the game, Guardiola said:
It is not serious, but today could not play. We’ll see next Sunday.
Right now, I don’t know [if he will play against Wolves]. We are going to see, maybe he can get it, we are going to see if we take a risk. But I think after the international break will be fit.
With the October international break immediately following the Wolves match, the injury comes at a convenient time for the league champions (and De Bruyne’s owners in the Fantasy world) should he not recover for the visit of Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.
Perhaps the best scenario from a long-term perspective would be if the groin strain is deemed troublesome enough to also keep De Bruyne out of the Belgium squad for their forthcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against San Marino and Kazakhstan, thus allowing him an extended breather after his early-season exertions.
We will hopefully get a further update from Guardiola in his pre-Gameweek 8 press conference on Thursday/Friday, although, given his track record, there is certainly no guarantee of that.
City didn’t particularly miss their influential Belgian, with the Sky Blues utterly dominant and Ilkay Gundogan (£5.2m) turning in a solid display in De Bruyne’s usual right-sided central midfield role – even if his dead-ball deliveries weren’t up to much.
Rather, it was City’s failure to take chances rather than create them that was the source of frustration for much of this dominant win.
Sergio Aguero (£12.2m), making his first start of the season in the UEFA Champions League, was much as he was against Norwich City in Gameweek 6, looking sharp but ultimately lacking his usual killer touch in front of goal.
The Argentinian striker couldn’t divert the ball past Dominik Livakovic when attempting to round the Zagreb goalkeeper and blazed another effort over, before failing to score a tap-in late on when pressured by visiting defender Emir Dilaver.
The fact that he was getting into such promising positions, as was the case against the Canaries, ought to have been enough to reassure his owners, while his 89-minute run-out doesn’t necessarily mean that he won’t start against Wolves, given that there is a five-day gap between the two fixtures and that he was rested for City’s two previous matches in league and cup.
Raheem Sterling‘s (£12.1m) owners will be feeling even more confident of the premium midfielder starting in Gameweek 8 after he was handed just 34 minutes as a second-half substitute against the Croatian champions.
Having had something of an off-day (albeit while still scoring) against Everton on Saturday night, Sterling was influential upon his introduction for Bernardo Silva (£7.9m) down the left flank last night.
The England international first tapped in a Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m) cross in typical Sterling fashion before setting up fellow substitute Phil Foden (£5.2m) for a last-gasp second.
No player on show registered more key passes than Sterling, despite his limited game-time.
Speaking of Sterling after full-time, Guardiola said:
Him as a player, when there are crosses, he’s always there. He has this talent. He loves to score goals.
He said a few days ago, ‘I miss chances against Everton, but I never was absent, I never was thinking about my mistakes’.
When we arrived here the first season played good, but it was like the goal, he didn’t care. Now the movement is there. But I think he can still improve in the finishing, in the last decision.
Today the pass to Phil was perfect.
Sterling’s strike was the classic City goal, with an incisive pass from deep and a flashed ball across the six-yard box resulting in a tap-in for the England winger.
Guardiola said of his side’s opener:
We don’t have big headers for crosses. We do it for the quality of the players we have in small spaces.
We believe when you attack inside and put a ball wide and people arrive for the cross, that’s the best way to score a goal.
It was really nice, but they defended so well. Even for the goal from Raheem, the defender was there. They were so good.
David Silva (£7.6m) and Bernardo wasted excellent chances for the hosts while Gundogan rattled the bar and in truth, the winning margin could have been a lot greater.
City were scarcely troubled at the other end, underling the point we made after the Everton game: if you are utterly dominant in possession (81% in this case) and your opposition set out to contain, then world-class defenders aren’t always necessary to keep a clean sheet.
Nicolas Otamendi (£5.5m) and Fernandinho (£5.2m) were again the centre-half pairing of choice, although this time Otamendi was on the left.
Guardiola explained that his decision was made in order to have a Portuguese-speaking stopper next to right-back Joao Cancelo (£5.3m) to help guide him through the game:
Because I wanted the support from right from Fernandinho because the communication with Joao is better.
Nico played many times on the left. Both can change.
The prospects of Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.5m) and Kyle Walker (£6.0m) starting in Gameweek 8 were perhaps enhanced by the fact that Benjamin Mendy (£5.9m) and Cancelo were given 90-minute run-outs at full-back, although we Fantasy managers have been around Guardiola long enough to know that a weekend start doesn’t necessarily follow a midweek rest.
With De Bruyne potentially out for the Wolves game, Bernardo may be tasked with filling in for his injured teammate in central midfield – although there may be trouble ahead of the Portugal international following a statement from the Football Association on Wednesday morning:
A six-match ban would be the sternest sentence that could be imposed by the FA but is not the minimum suspension period and any absence may potentially be shorter, depending on the outcome of the case.
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Fernandinho, Otamendi, Mendy; Gundogan, Rodri, David Silva (Foden 90′); Mahrez, Aguero (Jesus 89′), Bernardo Silva (Sterling 56′).
Tottenham Hotspur 2-7 Bayern Munich
- Goals: Son Heung-min (£9.7m), Harry Kane (£11.0m)
- Assists: Moussa Sissoko (£5.0m), Danny Rose (£5.5m)
The scoreline was inescapably ugly but for owners of Spurs’ attacking assets, there was at least some encouragement from last night’s thrashing at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
For much of the first half, Mauricio Pochettino’s side went toe to toe with the Bundesliga champions and had the better chances.
Those Fantasy managers who own Son Heung-min (£9.7m) and/or Harry Kane (£11.0m) would have been quietly satisfied to see their premium assets register nine attempts on goal between them, with both players getting on the scoresheet.
Son, in particular, caught the eye early on, even if his shooting radar was misaligned.
Starting alongside Kane in a 4-4-2 diamond, the South Korea international was twice released clean through by the impressive Tanguy Ndombele (£6.0m) in the opening ten minutes but saw shots saved by Manuel Neuer.
Son got lucky at the third time of asking, racing onto a Moussa Sissoko (£5.0m) pass to fire past the Bayern goalkeeper and put his side 1-0 up.
No Spurs player had more attempts on goal than Son, although all five came in the first half and he was much quieter after the break as he took up a wider position on the right.
Kane saw a goalbound shot hacked away by David Alaba after rounding Neuer but, not for the first time this season, it was Son who had the more clear-cut chances and the England striker’s second-half goal came from the penalty spot after Danny Rose (£5.5m) had been felled.
With Ndombele also wasting a glorious chance on 26 minutes, Spurs were unfortunate to go into the break trailing 2-1 to their clinical visitors.
Kane’s goal from the spot to make it 4-2 also led to a brief second-half resurgence as substitute Christian Eriksen (£8.8m) forced Neuer into a flying stop.
Pochettino said after full-time:
To be honest, after 30 minutes, after the first half was my best feeling in managing this team this season. That is so difficult to accept how after the second half changed that feeling and you feel so bad.
But when you have in front of you the talented players of Bayern Munich, it’s an amazing team and of course, the team, in the end, was like ‘the game is lost’ and we concede or they were very clinical.
This was not a great advert for Spurs’ defence, however, and the capitulation in the final ten minutes perhaps hinted at wider problems beyond technical ability.
While Bayern’s goals were all beautifully taken, Spurs played a helping hand in most of them, either gifting possession to their visitors or being left flat-footed by the pace and directness of the Bundesliga giants.
Serge Aurier (£5.0m) in particular had a horror show at right-back against four-goal Serge Gnabry and even when he returns from domestic suspension, there would have to be doubts over whether he will sustain a run in the first team now that Juan Foyth (£4.9m) is back to fitness.
Even if the Lilywhites won’t face a team as brilliant as Bayern every week, the fact that Hugo Lloris (£5.5m) has made the second-highest number of saves in the top flight this season is indicative of Spurs’ uncharacteristic frailty at the back.
On the team news front, Pochettino made only one change from the side that defeated Southampton, with Dele Alli (£8.4m) in for Eriksen.
The likes of Erik Lamela (£6.1m) and Lucas Moura (£7.2m) were again overlooked following their benchings in Gameweek 7.
Tottenham Hotspur XI (4-3-1-2): Lloris; Aurier, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Rose; Ndombele (Eriksen 63′), Winks, Sissoko; Alli (Moura 70′) Kane, Son.
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