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Friday, October 24, 2014

Liverpool Thumping by Real Madrid Prove they are Light Years Behind Europe's Best

Matchday 4 of the UEFA Champions League didn’t flood with goals as the night before but there was still enough drama, action and just about enough goals to quench the thirst for some.

Europe hosted 8 games in 8 different cities but it was in Northwest England that arguably the lion share of attention was as five-time winners Liverpool entertained record winners and defending champions Real Madrid in a European heavyweights clash. The odds were rightly stacked against Liverpool getting a result against Madrid who won last season’s title and have made it to at least the semis for the past four years, a stark contrast to Brendan Rodgers’ side who are making their return to the elite competition after a 5-year absence. Gulf in class.

Much had been said of the atmosphere in a European night at Anfield and the Koop were in full voice bellowing one song after another before raising the decibels to deafening levels when the ‘You Will Never Walk Alone’ rendition rented the air before kickoff. Emotions ran high as the home fans sang along to one of the world of football’s most famous anthems. Not even the likes of Steven Gerrard who was born and grew up with the song nor first time visitors like the would-be tormentor of Liverpool’s midfield, Isco, could have understated the chilling effect, the hair-raising feeling of the musical carousel.

With the stage set for a giant clash, the hosts started with a spring in their step, circulating the ball around with ease, putting Carlo Ancelloti’s side under relentless pressure. After all, the last time Real made the trip to Anfield, they were made to look like they had just emerged from an inferior universe with Steven Gerrard scoring twice in a 4-0 demolition job, damn, even Andrea Dossena scored on that night! There was a bit of gulf in class in favor of Liverpool then.

But that was five years ago, and so much has happened besides the passage of time. So it wasn’t a surprise when the Reds were given a timely reminder of how far they half fallen behind the La Decima champions when James Rodriguez’s perfectly weighted lob behind the Liverpool backline found Cristiano Ronaldo who slotted home with Dejan Lovren attempting in failure to clear the danger. A classy goal created by a World Cup Golden Boot winner and scored by a Ballon d’Or winner. Gulf in class.

Karim Benzema showed the hosts why a player of his quality shouldn’t be left unaccompanied at the back post after he looped a header past Mignolet to double Madrid’s lead. A better positioning, a little instinct not to give Madrid too much time on the ball outside the box and that goal could have been avoided. And who assisted Benzema’s goal? Toni Kroos, a World Cup winner who was also named in the All-Star team of the tournament. Gulf in class.

Benzema was at it again just four minutes before the breather, and boy didn’t Liverpool desperately need a break given the proceedings. With the game 3-0 in favour of the visitors at half time, Liverpool fans would have wished for yet another Istanbul miracle. They must have recalled that night in Tureky when the Reds came from three goals down at half time to force a 3-3 draw and edge out AC Milan on post-match penalties and lift what was their 5th European crown. Problem was, Carlo Ancelloti was the manager of Milan then and for sure he wouldn’t let such a catastrophe hit him for the second time. And secondly, there simply wasn’t motivation enough; there wasn’t a title to compete for.

For the second half, Brendan Rodgers tinkered with the team a bit, hauling off the ineffectual half-time-shirt-swapping Mario Balotelli for Adam Lallana and putting Raheem Sterling as the point man. Whether it worked or not is open to debate but the Merseysiders at least ensured there wasn’t more goals in the second half.

Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu will be stage for a rematch in less than a fortnight and such is the importance of that match as they will secure qualification to the next stage with a draw or a win against the Reds. Will Liverpool prove to be a much tougher opposition or will the gulf in class see the hosts prevail?  

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Champions League Matchday 3 Review: Goals Galore Mark Record Setting Night

There was goals galore in the UEFA Champions League matchday 3 with no less than 40 goals finding the back of the net.

It all started with the early kick off with four goals scored in the match pitting CSKA Moscow and Manchester City. CSKA came from two goals down to force a 2-2 draw with the Premier League champions in Russia. City took the lead just before the hour mark, Sergio Aguero tapping in Edin Dzeko’s cut back before the Argie turned creator for James Milner’s strike in the 38th minute for a 2-0 lead at half time. However, the Russian outfit fought back pulling a goal back through Seydou Doumbia in the 64th minute before Israeli midfielder Bibras Natcho converted an 86th minute penalty to draw level and leave City’s qualification hopes in tatters. Manuel Pellegrini’s side are without a win in their first three matches leaving them third on the log, 2 points behind second place Roma and a further 7 adrift of leaders Bayern Munich.

Pep Guardiola’s men put themselves to within a win of securing qualification to the last 16 with a 7-1 demolition job of AS Roma. Arjen Robben netted twice in the first half with Mario Gotze, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller all registering their names on the scoresheet for a 5-0 lead at half time. Gervinho pulled one back for Roma after the breather but substitutes Frank Ribbery and Xerdan Shaqiri joined the Bayern goalscoring party which only ended with the scoreboard reading 7-1 in favour of the visitors.

Three goals either side of half time guided Chelsea to a 6-0 thumping of Slovenian side NK Maribor at Stamford Bridge. Loic Remy put the Blues ahead in the 13th minute before Didier Drogba converted a penalty midway into the first half, the Ivorian netting his first goal since returning to Chelsea and his 43rd in the competition. John Terry made it 3-0 before the breather connecting to a cross from Cesc Fabregas. Mitja Viler turned into his own net before a brace from Eden Hazard completed the rout to ensure Jose Mourinho’s men remained top of Group G ahead of Schalke 04 who edged out visitor Sporting 4-3, Cameroon international Jean-Eric Moting with a winning penalty for the Germans in stoppage time.

Lionel Messi and Neymar were both on the scoresheet for Barcelona who easily dismissed Ajax 3-1. Messi assisted Neymar’s opener for the Catalans with 7 minutes on the clock before the Argentine captain turned in one after being set up by Andres Iniesta in the 24 minute. Anwar el Ghazi pulled one back for Frank de Boer side two minutes before the final whistle but any hopes of an unlikely comeback were dashed by Sandro Ramirez who scored in the final minute of added time to give Barca the win, their 67th home win in the Champions League.

Barca however remain a point behind leaders Paris Saint Germain who needed an 87th minute strike from Edison Cavani to beat APOEL Nicosia in Cyprus.

Atletico Bilbao fell further behind in Group H after going down 3-1 at the hands of group leaders Porto. Hector Herrera put Porto ahead at the half time mark only for Guillermo Fernandez to equalize for the visitors 13 minutes after the restart. Ricardo Quaresma had the last laugh though as he netted in the 75th minute to protect Porto’s unbeaten record in the group. The Portuguese side are a point ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk, who dismantled BATE 7-0. Luis Adriano hauled five goals for Shakhtar including two penalties while there were also goals for Alex Teixeira and Douglas Costa.

On Wednesday night, Liverpool welcome Real Madrid at Anfield with victory more vital for them than the visitors. The Reds have never lost to Madrid winning their last encounter 4-0 in their Champions League clash in 2009. Ludogorets will host Basel in the other group fixture.

Last year’s losing finalists, Atletico Madrid will host Malmo FF with Juventus traveling to Olympiacos Piraeus. Bayer Leverkusen will have a date with Zenit in Germany, Monoca will host Benfica while Arsenal and Dortmund will play away to Anderlecht and Galatasaray respectively.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

The Records that Tumbled in the Champions League Matchday 3 Goalfest Night

Are you the type who appreciates goals, goals and more goals even if the quality of football is not up to scratch? Or do you love an eclectic mix of both? If you are either of both then you sure must have slept feeling entertained enough at the end of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League matchday.

A record 40 goals were scored in only 8 games across Europe with the standout figures being Luis Adriano’s 5-goal haul for Shakhtar Donetsk which led them to a 7-0 obliteration of BATE Barisov and Bayern Munich’s 7-1 bullying of Roma at Stadio Olympico. The 40 goals were the second highest on a Champions League matchday falling only four short of the 44 goals scored on October 1 1997 but even then, 10 games were played on the night.

The Bavarians and the Ukrainian outfit became only the third and fourth sides to score seven goals away joining Ligue 1 duo Olympique Lyon and Olympique Marseille. Mircea Lucescu’s Shakhtar also became the first team in Champions League history to score six goals in the first half of a match with Adriano matching Lionel Messi’s record of 5 goals in a match, the Argentine having accumulated the same against Bayer Leverkusen on March 7 2012. However, Adriano became the first player to score five away from home in the history of the competition.

And as if that’s not enough, 21 goals were scored by the half time whistle, a competition record for first half goals. CSKA Moscow, Bayern, Sporting, Schalke, Chelsea and Shakhtar (both twice) all scored from the penalty spot, the eight goals from the spot also a new Champions League record breaking the six penalties scored on September 13 2000 and September 29 2010.

There were also club records. Bayern Munich’s 7-1 win against Roma was their biggest away win in European competition while they also became the first away team to put 7 goals past an Italian team in Italian ground in European competition. Chelsea’s 6-0 thrashing of Maribor is their largest win margin in their Champions League history while Shakhtar’s 7-0 win over BATE was not only their largest but ended the hosts’ 14 month unbeaten run at home.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

2015 AFCON Qualifiers Roundup: Algeria, Cape Verde Qualify, Nigeria Get a Lifeline as Ivory Coast Lose to Congo in Abidjan

Africa champions Nigeria rekindled the hopes of making it to next year’s Africa Cup of Nations championships after a classy display saw them beat Sudan 3-1 in a must-win match in Abuja.

The 2013 winners had to beat the North African nation but were made to wait for the opening goal which came three minutes into the second half through Ahmed Musa. However, their lead only lasted for 8 minutes with Salah Ibrahim drawing the visitors level in the 56th minute. The Super Eagles came close to extending the lead but were occasionally thwarted by Akram El Hadji in the Falcons of Jedaine’s goal.  Aaron Samuel Olanare restored Nigeria’s lead ten minutes later before Musa settled the home team’s nerves with a third goal in the 90th minute. The win was Nigeria’s first in Group A helping them to move off the foot of the table and putting them right in the mix for qualification.

South Africa would have secured progress to the finals with a victory over Congo but were held to a frustrating barren draw by the visitors in a game of few clear-cut chances at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.

Cape Verde and 1990 winners Algeria, became the first nations to book their places at the 2015 championships in Morocco. Algeria made it four wins out of four in Group B after making light work of visiting Malawi. FC Porto midfielder Yacine Brahimi gave the Fennecses the lead inside two minutes with Riyad Mahrez making it 2-0 just before the interval. Islam Slimani’s 54th minute strike put the game to bed as Christian Gourcuff’s side made it to the finals with two games to spare. Ethiopia revenged their defeat against Mali beating The Eagles 3-2 in Bamako, Abebaw Batako with the winner in the final minute of normal time, a result that leaves the runners-up position open.

Cape Verde secured only their second ever appearance at the Cup of Nations after beating Mozambique 1-0. Heldon Ramos netted the only goal of the match with the Blues Sharks guaranteed at least the second slot irrespective of whether they lose their remaining two matches. Three second half goals by Zambia gave them a 3-0 win over Niger to move them second on the log. Rainford Kalaba and Emmanuel Mayuka netted before goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene converted an 87th minute penalty to give the Chipolopolo maximum points.

Cameroon took a huge step towards qualification from Group D after beating Sierra Leone 2-0 in Yaounde thanks to quick fire goals by Leonard Kweuke and captain Stephane Mbia who found the back of the net in the 2nd and 7th minute respectively. The Indomitable Lions could have entered the finals had Ivory Coast beaten DR Congo but The Elephants were shocked 4-3 in a game of fine strikes.

Ghana moved on top of a tight Group E after claiming a 3-1 win over Guinea. Asamoah Gyan opened the scoring for the Black Stars at the quarter hour mark but Mohamed Yattara equalized in the 34th minute. A Jordan Ayew penalty and Emmanuel Badu’s strike in stoppage time gave the 4-time champions the full points. Togo completed a home and away win over Uganda beating the East Africans 1-0, Serge Akakpo with the goal.

Angola thrashed Lesotho 4-0 while Burkina Faso and Gabon drew 1-1 in Group C. Ferjani Sassi scored with the last kick of the game for Tunisia in their 1-0 win over Senegal while Egypt ended Botswana’s qualifying campaign with a 2-0 win.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Of Roy Hodgson’s Poor Media Skills and Raheem Sterling’s Risk of Burning Out Ala Michael Owen

Sterling explaining to Roy how he wants to play?
Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling has been hitting the headlines in the UK press at the back of England’s 1-0 win over Estonia in their 2016 European Championships qualifier. 

Sterling didn’t start the match with the Three Lions manager Roy Hodgson claiming the Liverpool midfielder asked to ‘sit out’ owing to fatigue. However, the 19-year-old was still called upon midway into the second half when he replaced Jordan Henderson to give the hitherto blunt England attack some pace and trickery in the final third. It wasn’t a surprise then when Sterling won a freekick outside the box barely ten minutes into the action which was drilled into the back of the Estonia net by Wayne Rooney.

That moment there emphasized the increasing importance of Sterling to the national team, his club Liverpool notwithstanding. However, when the dust seemed to be settling on the game, Roy Hodgson alleged that it was Sterling who asked to be rested, an unnecessary comment that once again exposed Hodgson’s poor management and naivety in front of the press.

The common rule in the book is always that you should protect your players and not hang them to dry especially not in front of the blaring cameras and desperate-for-a-slip-in-the-tongue group that is the English press. For all his managerial know-how boasting 38 years, and counting, the 67-year-old seemed alien to that when he told reporters that the decision to exclude Sterling from the starting lineup wasn’t a shrewd managerial move but that the youngster asked to be left out.

You simply cannot say that, unless you are out of sorts like Roy Hodgson of course. 

However, after all has been said though, Sterling is the proverbial grass that gets burned when two egomaniac bulls engage in a brawl. Granted, many pundits have made a mountain out of the molehill as Sterling finds himself stuck right inside a club and country row. 

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has been critical of how his players are handled while on national duty, and he is perhaps justified if the absence of Daniel Sturridge for the past six weeks is anything to go by. An indispensable member of the Liverpool squad, Sturridge sustained injury while playing for England, something that didn’t go down well with the Anfield hierarchy. His absence from the Liverpool set up has seen the Reds struggle to live up to expectations. They have struggled for goals, fast-paced attacking football, sharpness in front of goal, wizardry skill with the ball, all the qualities that define Daniel Sturridge.

A similar occurrence to Sterling and Liverpool could find themselves struggling even further hence the weighted concern from his manager. 

The Sterling case just raised the bar a bit higher but both managers should take the blame. Statistics indicate that the Jamaican-born star has played almost thrice as much football in the past year than he did the year before. That’s too fast a transition and too much football for a teenager. Add the fact that he loves playing his football with with explosive pace, the physical demand of the Premier League, the mental beating he got after Liverpool's almost-there title challenge, 15 games already in an infant season and the stress level Liverpool's new campaign has gotten and you see why the little boy might ask to be rested against a lowly club ranked 81st in the world, 63 places below England.

Liverpool don’t have to look no further than Michael Owen who burst into the scene as a 17-year-old. Owen was precocious, a fine goalscorer, a complete finisher. However, he was allowed to play too many games and by the time he got to 23, 24 years, injuries had plagued him. He never peaked at the age of 26-27 years when most players get to their prime. The same could be said of Robbie Fowler.

Roy Hodgson needs not to look any further than Jack Wilshere. The Arsenal midfielder played over 4000 minutes of competitive football before he turned 18, a huge mistake as after that, he was on the sidelines for a year. Sterling is clocking even more minutes and runs the risk of getting perma-crocked should his plight for a little rest continue making the likes of Hodgson parade him for criticism.

Ex Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher added his voice to the controversy saying; “I’ve mentioned it myself, that we’ve got to be careful with Raheem Sterling burning out. You think of players in the past – I played with two of the best young players you’ll ever see in Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler. They had a lot of injuries when they got to 23, 24, and a lot of it comes from too much football.”

Carragher couldn't have hit a better nail on the head since in Michael Owen, Liverpool and England had arguably the most talented forward of his generation but due to too much football, he never lived up to his billing.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

COPA 2014 Champions, Kitale Youth, Depart for South Africa Camp

COPA Coca-Cola 2014 Champions, Kitale Youth left the country Wednesday morning for a one-week international boot camp in South Africa.

Led by their coach, John 'Ingwe' Barasa, the contingent of 14 players departed the country in the wee hours of the morning for Pretoria where they are expected to enhance their knowledge in different aspects of the game.

"We are extremely delighted to have gotten this opportunity and the boys have been really looking forward to this day," said Barasa who guided the team to victory in the national finals held in Nairobi in August.

"It's almost unbelievable what the little boys have achieved in such a short time they have been together and also given their humble backgrounds in Transzoia County. We will strive to make our country proud," he added.

Kitale earned the right to represent Kenya in this year's boot camp after edging out Kisumu Lakers 5-4 in post match penalties in the finals played at City Stadium.

All the 14 players who were part of the title-winning side got themselves on the plane. They included the 2014 MVP Kennedy Mwendwa, golden boot winner Elly Saenyi who is the captain, custodian Dan Wamalwa and pint-sized wideman Maxwell Kibet.

Others are fullbacks Dominic Tab and Charles Chege, center-halves Brian Bahati and Livingstone Konzo as well as anchorman Issa Rashid. Midfielders Kevin Ouma, Eric Wafula, Samuel Wanjia, Geoffrey Onjuati and utility man Austin Juma also traveled.

"This is a dream come true for me and my colleagues. It is yet to sink in really to most of us that we are going beyond the borders, we are totally excited," said Eric 'Berbatov' Wafula who scored the solitary goal for Kitale in their unlucky 1-3 loss to Sags Academy in a build up match on Tuesday.

Wafula opened the scoring with a fine half-volley 20 minutes into the game and they could have put the game to bed before the interval but Elly Saenyi was wasteful in front of goal. A reorganized, re-energized and rejuvenated Sags team

The players will participate at the camp alongside East African neighbors Tanzania and Burundi, Central African nation Congo among others.

The one-week camp will be held at the High Performance Center (HPC) in Pretoria and will see teams get expert training from some of the leading coaches drawn from the host country.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Steven Gerrard Conundrum: What Rodgers Should Do With the Captain

Hello you Liverpool fan, can we talk? As in just have a little chit-chat about err… someone? Not just anyone, but a football player, not your normal Sunday league footballer but a Liverpool player, a club legend? Ok let me stop all the ambiguity, grab a drink, lean back on your seat, and let’s have a discussion about Steven Gerrard. Let me go first right?

Steven Gerrard will forever be remembered as a Liverpool icon, the one-club legend who time and again put his foot on the right gear when needed and dragged men around him to safety like no other. His position in the Liverpool folklore is secure. He will be revered and idolized, his influence in the dressing room will be missed, kids will be named after him and his No. 8 jersey will, even if retired, be fan’s favorite for many generations to come. Can I continue?

Having said that, it’s about time the Liverpool nation, the Koop and more so Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers who all adore and love Gerrard accepted the fact that he can no longer be who he has been for the club for the past 16 odd years. He is no longer that sprint chicken who will burst with pace before letting fly a thunderous 30-yard shot into the back of the net. He is no longer that full-bloodied midfielder who will track his marker before dispossessing him with a crunching tackle, just in time. He is the captain alright, the leader of men, the quintessential embodiment of Liverpool Football Club and the reference point to that rare quality in modern football; club loyalty.

However, the Whiston-born midfielder seems to be losing it (and am being kind because many pundits are saying he has lost it). Taking a look at the beginning of this season, Gerrard has been part of the problem for the Reds who have lost three of their opening six league games. Rodgers has carried on with the scheme of last season where Captain Fantastic was deployed in the deep lying midfield position to great effect.

Gerrard contributed 13 goals and provided the same number of assists as Liverpool scored goals for fun in what was one of the fiercest attacking frontlines in Europe, led by the dynamic duo of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, otherwise referred to as ‘The SAS’. Gerrard’s 13 assists was the highest of any player in the league and his 2,220 passes at an accuracy of 86% was only second to Manchester City’s Yaya Toure. The Liverpool No. 8 also won 69 tackles, made 48 interceptions and completed 91 clearances in a season that saw him deservedly named in the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) Team of the Year.

Rodgers was quick to laud his captain saying, "We mustn't forget that he's arguably the best in European football in a controlling role at this moment in time. There's not many players who can do what he can do - be one of the best attacking midfield players in Europe and then switch to be arguably the best controlling player.”

While the Ulsterman’s description of the 34-year-old might have been a wee bit generous, Gerrard for the umpteenth time proved himself as an indispensable member of the Liverpool squad who came so close to winning their maiden Premier League title, a prize that no one would have enjoyed more than Gerrard himself.

However, that’s as far as the good part of the script went. The Gerrard of this season has been a shadow of that of the season past. His legs are tired, his body language is at its all-time low and the captain’s head seems to be dropping. In the defeats to Aston Villa and West Ham this season, Gerrard has been found wanting. Opposition managers ala Villa’s Paul Lambert and West Ham’s Sam Allardyce exposed his weakness by deploying Gabriel Agbonlahor and Steward Downing respectively to nullify the threat that Gerrard poses. They stuck to him, covered every blade of grass with him, followed and put him under pressure totally invalidating his influence in the proceedings.

It was only against Everton where Rodgers tinkered with the shape of the team by slotting Jordan Henderson alongside Gerrard that latter showed his influence which was capped by a fine free kick goal that served to answer his critics. But even in that game, the statistics suggested his authority in the game was minimal with Javier Manquillo the only Liverpool player who clocked 90 minutes having touched the ball less than Gerrard.

The midweek Champions League clash away to Basel saw Gerrard surrender possession countless times and even his set-piece delivery wasn’t at its customary high standards. The critics who had just started biting their humble pie resurfaced.

Many have suggested that Rodgers should push Gerrard a bit further up like Manchester City have done with Frank Lampard who has 4 goals in his name in 5 appearances for the Citizens. Like Gerrard, Lampard doesn’t have the feet or mobility to go the distance on the pitch which has seen Manuel Pellegrini slot in the attacking third where he doesn’t have to do so much running.

Should Rodgers try and adopt Gerrard in the same manner City have with Lampard and will Captain Fantastic flourish in that position and if not, will the manager be brave enough to drop him to the bench?  And should Liverpool fans finally start accepting the very fact that the heartbeat of the team for over a decade should bow and take his place in the supporting cast at the Anfield theater room and beyond?

It’s your turn to talk now because for the first time, Gerrard seems like a man who shouldn't be a guaranteed starter at Liverpool.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Champions League Dossier: Manchester City Players Brilliant Individually, Terrible Collectively

Manchester City has established itself as one of the British teams who regularly enjoy participating in Europe’s elite club competition, the UEFA Champions League. Ever since making their return to the competition four years ago after 43 years in the abyss, the Arab-owned club has become a permanent fixture in the competition which accommodates four clubs from England.

However, results on the pitch at the biggest stage of them all have been far from convincing. In their last three seasons in the competition, the 1970 UEFA Cup Winners Cup champions have progressed past the group stage only once. Their return to the competition in 2011 saw them crash out at the group stage after finishing third behind Bayern Munich and Napoli. They did even much worse in the following season finishing last after they failed to register a single win in 6 matches.

It was only last season that they progressed to the last 16 after finishing behind Bayern Munich. However, that was the furthest they went as they lost 4-1 in aggregate against Barcelona.

It hasn’t been a good start this season either even under the experienced hands of Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini. City were beaten for the umpteenth time by Bayern Munich in their opener. The match looked destined for a stalemate but the Bavarians showed their experience grabbing the winner through Jerome Boateng in the dying embers of the game.

The Premier League champions were supposed to show their might when the Roma brigade came visiting on Tuesday but another frustrating evening saw City them take the lead inside four minutes through a Sergio Aguero penalty. That should have served as a danger signal, a warning to Rudi Garcia’s men that they were in for a long day. But the Giallorrossi wouldn’t be cowed as they threw the home team’s script off the window as early as midway into the first half and wrote their own through veteran skipper Francesco Totti who drew level with some deft finish as he became the oldest player to score in European football.

On another day, the Italian capital side would have left England with a point but neither Garcia nor the couple of the club’s fans who attended the match would be disappointed with the single point.

The draw was the fourth successive season City have failed to win their opening home match in the competition, something that has proved costly before and looks like it might bite again this season.

It was a performance that lacked will-power, belief, tenacity and big-game mentality that is akin of a team that wants it the most. Many of City players sulked and played like they belonged to the second tier of European club football. Credit must go to the visitors who never let the stage or the big names written all over the City team intimidate them.

But questions will definitely be asked about this City side whose individual players are a Champions League manager’s dream but collectively, a frightening nightmare. With only one point from two games, the Citizens must now win home and away against Russian side CSKA Moscow, get a result against Bayern which might still not be enough making their final clash in the group against Roma in Italy a must-win as well.

Will they manage? Not on the account of that display in front of 37,509 fans at the Eitihad on Tuesday night.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!