The Lost Art Of Keeping A Clean Sheet

Though it’s never wise to read too much into pre-season fixtures, four defeats from five games for Manchester City will give manager Roberto Mancini food for thought as his team prepares for the imminent Premier League campaign. The latest loss came after a sluggish, anaemic performance against Borussia Dortmund, who ran out worthy 3-1 winners.

The Germans even managed to miss a penalty in the process, Joe Hart saving well from Lucas Barrios; justice, perhaps, after the baffling award of the spot-kick for a fairly innocuous challenge from debutant Aleksandar Kolarov. By then, the scores were level, with Barrios having tucked an earlier penalty away after an ill-timed lunge from Gareth Barry in the area, with Jo equalising just two minutes later, finishing off a flowing move started by the sporadically impressive Yaya Toure.

The second half saw City make several substitutions, as Dortmund began to dominate possession, restricting the away side to merely the occasional half-chance and set-piece. Lively Japanese newcomer Shinji Kagawa slotted past substitute ‘keeper Shay Given four minutes after the interval, with Robert Lewandowski rounding off the scoring ten minutes from time with a simple finish after some woeful City defending.

Though Mancini may have been impressed with the performance of Kolarov and, to a lesser extent, Toure, he will surely have been concerned about his side’s poor defending and their inability to create a chance worthy of note in the second period. Too often City were lacking creativity in midfield, shy of a player with the wherewithal to pick out one of the two forwards. Though City have several of their best players to come back – as well as the likely arrival of one or more new faces in time for the big kick-0ff in a fortnight’s time, it’s perhaps worrying that none of the fringe players looked like they wanted to force their way into the manager’s thoughts ahead of the new season. Mancini has already claimed he wants two world-class players challenging for every position; on this evidence, his squad might need a little more tinkering with than he originally planned.

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