Date: 25th July 2011 at 12:38am
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Mancini`s starting line-up for this match looked like the kind of team he will put out in the Community Shield, give or take the fitness of Yaya Toure.

Predominantly a 4-4-2 offering with Balotelli and Dzeko as twin spearheads and the magnificent David Silva restored to midfield.

Right from the start it was clear that City meant business with flowing football all over the field, a symphony of football inspired by Silva. Richards was getting forward, pinning Beckham back to cover his full back.

Early on however a clash of heads between a Galaxy player and new man Gael Clichy left the latter somewhat dazed and looking similar to Tim Witherspoon when he`d been hit by Mike Tyson, like a baby in a play pen. The medical team attended to him and deemed him able to continue despite the commentators suggesting he should be replaced at once for his own good health.

Galaxy were struggling to match City`s quality, Beckham leaving them light in midfield, where de Jong reigned supreme and Silva set about his work in breathtaking style.

One such slick move after 19n minutes saw Richards steam into the box, getting goal side of Jordan who promptly chopped him down in a way that could have left Richards with a serious injury. Indeed, Richards stayed down clutching his knee, but was thankfully restored to fitness.

No card was shown to Jordan but up stepped Balotelli with his usual stuttering run and as the keeper headed to his right hand side, Mario prodded the ball the other way.

The stage was set for the floodgates to open as Galaxy looked off the pace and City were all over them. It was 39 minutes before Beckham crossed the half way line.

Around 30 minutes in Balotelli sprang the offside trap, though he hadn`t and instead of burying it in the net, did a pirouette and back flick and missed. His colleagues couldn`t understand what was going on and this prompted Mancini to replace him with Milner. This substitution upset City`s rhythm as the formation returned to 4-5-1 or 4-3-3. There was a loss of life up front, nothing constructive from wide out and all Silva`s prompting and movement was in vain. Both teams stumbled to half time and the cameras were more interested in Balotelli`s antics rather than what was happening on-field.

Galaxy brought on more starters for the second half and this gave them more energy and with City playing essentially three in midfield, Galaxy began to get forward in numbers and caused City some problems in and around the box.

After 53 minutes following some neat passing, Kolarov was caught between two stools as nobody had followed Magee, who lashed the loose ball up and over Hart for the equaliser. It was a stunning shot and a great goal for this match.

Hart was forced into several saves as City looked fragile. They kept their goal intact but following the usual friendly type changes didn`t look to threatening up front until the last minute when Guidetti could have won the match for City.

And so to penalties where City won 7-6. Guidetti again had the chance to win it but he and Lescott had theirs saved and finally it was left to Joe Hart himself to score the winner.

This was a much better work out for City against reasonable opposition, but much of the good work was undone with the Balotelli – Mancini feud. The team lost its balance, threat and thrust. I was beginning to enjoy the movement, the work between Silva and Balotelli and the midfield tenacity of de Jong.

With Balotelli gone the smart movement ceased and you started to wonder where goals would come from when the season proper starts. Milner didn`t do much, although his penalty was first class, Barry sat alongside de Jong and didn`t really cause any problems, Johnson`s jinking didn`t really work, although he did get clear on a couple of occasions and should have fared better in term of troubling the scoreboard.

In the second half the younger homegrowns started to appear, but couldn`t unlock the Galaxy vault. Weiss did however score his penalty?just. Savic looked composed again at the back as has Clichy who despite the clash of heads looked a threat down the left going forward and resilient enough in defence.
So City remain unbeaten and there are some signs of progression from last season. The early 4-4-2 arrangement had danger written all over it, with the fluidity to change to 5 in midfield if needed, as Silva could drop back in. It wasn`t necessary today though so he played a freer role, leaving Clichy to range forward to stretch Galaxy at the back.
I liked the look of it all until it was disturbed either by Balotelli`s showboating or Mancini`s disciplinarianism.

If Balotelli though he saw a flag or heard a whistle then on this occasion I have some sympathy with him. If he was showing off, then I don`t. He really wasn`t happy getting taken off and the commentators vented their distaste for the rest of the night as he threw water bottles and took his shirt off. Mario didn`t even appear on the bench for the second half.

Beckham despite his bleatings this week contributed practically nothing and was replaced at the break.
Just about a good result against an accredited team. Inter Milan now wait in the wings. Maybe Mario will show his true style then especially as he might be under pressure, dare we say from Aguero by then, or indeed ?.Tevez.

 

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