In case the Manchester City wants to finally score its first Champions League title, it needs to start taking the game more seriously both on and off the field.
The City boys displayed apathetic and sloppy performance at the start of their European campaign on Wednesday resulting in getting humbled down 2-1 by Lyon as the players were surrounded by swathes of empty seats in the Etihad Stadium.
After being unable to communicate with the bench and getting banned from the touchline, City manager Pep Guardiola somehow managed to fill one of the vacant seats in the stands and saw his Premier League champions getting ripped apart by the French players.
Blunders by midfielder Fernandinho led to two successful goals by Lyon, highlighting the irresponsible attitude of the players against a team that secured the third position in the French league last season.
Lyon charged forward as a pass by the Brazilian midfielder was caught around the halfway line. Nabil Fekir sent in a cross from the left that reached Maxwel Cornet after evading Fabian Delph’s swinging legs. As his mistake became evident, Delph had his head in his hands.
The City’s troubles worsened when Fernandinho was caught in possession again. As Memphis Depay set Fekir on a run, Lyon’s lead was doubled in the 43rd by hitting through the legs of John Stones from the edge of the penalty area.
Until talks over a 60 million-euro ($70 million) transfer broke down, it appeared that Lyon would lose Fekir to Liverpool in the offseason.
Genesio said, “Nabil showed our captain is back. I know that I can count on him absolutely.”
The lack of vision and composure on the ball by midfielder Kevin De Bruyne who is out of the game until November due to an injury in the right knee was clear by the City’s performance.
The only reason for City to feel persecuted was the denial of a penalty for Gabriel Jesus as the former Manchester United defender Rafael da Silva tripped him a few moments before Memphis Depay scored.
However, the improvement proved to be insufficient.
When Bernardo Silva scored from locum Leroy Sane’s cutback, City pulled one back in the 67th. Though the attacking threat was too erratic from the City side that led the team in winning the Premier League with a top score of 100 points only 4 months ago and are popularly known as one of the biggest favorites in this season’s Champions League.
City appeared to have one of the kinder draws with Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk also in Group F but ended playing catch-up.
Completing a decade under Abu Dhabi ownership let City assemble a squad for more than $1 billion. Yet, the Champions League is the one big prize that the club hasn’t yet added to its kitty.
Following defeats in the round of 16 and quarterfinals last season, City has become the first English side to lose four uninterrupted Champions League matches.
Before the kickoff, the club cleared its uptight relationship with the European premier competition.
The Champions League anthem was severely criticized by the crowd, reflecting the ongoing bitterness between the team often failing to sell out group-stage games and UEFA sanctioning the club for breaching spending rules.
Arteta said, “I wouldn’t like to make excuse. We had this type of crowd in the Champions League before and we were able to win the game.”