Manchester City Hold On Against Hoffenheim For Group Win

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Pep Guardiola the manager of Manchester City gives instructions during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Manchester City and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at Etihad Stadium on December 12, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images)

When this game began Manchester City were looking for a cool and calm performance. They only had 15 fit first-team players, which meant there was no Fernandinho for the first time all season. What they got was a wild dogfight with one of the best teams in Germany. Hoffenheim came to play and, thanks to that, we got another fantastic Champions League game.

Manchester City Hold On For Group Win

The Game

It was an end to end slugfest at the Etihad. Hoffenheim, led by Julian Nagelsmann, are an attacking team that really like to get after it. However, his side do not come with a particularly strong defence – they’ve only kept one clean sheet all season. Combine that with City’s prowess in attack and fireworks are inevitable. It was still a surprise to see the visitors break the deadlock, though.

Aymeric Laporte’s first real major mistake in a City shirt was to bundle over Benjamin Hubner in the box, an obvious penalty; a penalty that on-fire striker Andrej Kramaric was delighted to score. That’s nine straight games for club and country that Kramaric has scored in – truly a man in form

Everyone knew City would get their chances and they got plenty of them. Hoffenheim keeper Oliver Baumann made six saves in the game and City hit the woodwork twice. Still, the equalizer came when Leroy Sane curled an outstanding free-kick into the far side of the net. The hosts equalised at the perfect time.

Sane and Sterling

The second half of this game was a clinic in counter-attacking and bad finishing. Manchester City had about six or seven second-half counter-attacks with real chances to score. The through balls and link up play through midfield was quick and concise. Phil Foden, Ilkay Gundogan and substitute Kyle Walker all played great balls into space for Sane and Raheem Sterling to run into.

Then there were the chances that Sane and Sterling created themselves. Sterling took a Hoffenheim corner all the way down the field on a breakaway. His pass played in Sane, who cut it back for Bernardo Silva, who somehow hit Baumann. They got another shot and this time played a beautiful one-two from Sane to Sterling back to Sane who hammered it past Baumann to take the lead.

From there, City had more counter-attacking chances and Hoffenheim had a few chances of their own but there were no more goals in this game.

City Takeaways

When the team sheets were announced before the game, any City fan eyes would have it up when the saw Phil Foden in the starting eleven. The 18-year-old had just signed a new contract with City on Monday. Anyone could imagine he wanted to put in a good performance after signing a new deal and he did just that.

He was calm, he was cool and he played a great game. His passing was strong, especially in transition. Foden played out a number of passes that sprung City players on one of their numerous counter attacks they had. As the game went on and as the game opened up Foden’s passing got better and better.

The Man of the Match today, though, was Leroy Sane. In such an open game his pace became so valuable for City. He’s getting better and better, doing the things that Pep wants him to do and the chances are coming because of it. Look for him to keep getting better and better through the Christmas period.

The Group

The win means that Manchester City top Group F of the Champions League. The group win puts them in Pot 1 for Friday’s Round of 16 draw. That’s even better because the other three English sides all are in Pot 2 and no team can play a team from its country in the Round of 16. Therefore, City’s options for the draw are Atletico Madrid, Ajax, Roma, Schalke or Porto.

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