Manchester City welcomed Sevilla and a few of their fans to the Etihad on Wednesday night for their final game of the Champions League group stages.
The blues had already qualified top of the group, which allowed some academy youngsters and fringe players some game time. However, we know Pep and the City way, and there was no way they were going to take the game lightly.
Pep chose a side with a mixture of experience and youth for this Champions League night: Ortega, Lewis, Dias, Laporte, Gomez, Gundogan (C), Grealish, Foden, Palmer, Mahrez and Alvarez.
Online critics accused the makeshift side of lacking intensity due to knowing that the game was a “dead rubber”. Or claims of being predictable despite different formations in one game. I am not sure what they were watching.
Whilst all the intent was there, the formation and the way Sevilla set up made it difficult for the blues to break them down. This isn’t the first time Pep has tried a similar set up this season without it quite clicking.
Additionally, there was a distinct lack of gelling between some of the players, understandably. However, Grealish and Foden linking up out on the left produced some beautiful football, despite no end product.
The skipper used his coaching expertise to command some of the younger players around him; he will make a fantastic coach one day.
As the break came, City were 0-1 down, and Pep took no time in making a crucial change. Bringing on Rodri allowed a shift in formation which ultimately changed the game. His presence allowed Gomez and Lewis to push out wide and attack the flanks.
The introduction of the Belgian assist king revolutionised City’s attack – though we were always pushing for the win, and I think we would have done it.
The blues went on to come back from 0-1 down to win 3-1, with goals from Lewis, Alvarez and Mahrez. Here are some talking points: