Wednesday, August 18, 2010

FC Timisoara v Manchester City Preview

Manchester City kick off their Intercities Fairs Intertoto UEFA Cup Big Vase Europa League campaign 5am tomorrow morning AEST, against Liga I side FC Timisoara from Romania. This match is not available on Fox Sports or ESPN, so you'll have to resort to "other methods" to watch the game.

We dare not treat Timisoara lightly — it was in the same stage of this competition two years ago that we almost suffered an embarrassing elimination at the hands of FC Midytlland. It was only through an injury-time own goal and a penalty shootout that we were able to remain in that season's UEFA Cup.

Let's not forget a couple of days ago in the Champions League, Tottenham were expected to beat Young Boys quite easily (oo-er), but will have to come from behind against Young Boys if they're to progress (ok, that's enough). Point is, we should treat our European opponents with respect.

Last season, Liga I was ranked eighth on the UEFA Coefficient — suggesting that it is a more competitive league in European competition than those in Portugal (9th), Turkey (11th), and Scotland (52nd, just above San Marino).

Roberto Mancini has named a strong squad to fly to Romania — after all, it would be humiliating to exit the competition at this stage, after all the talk of having a big enough squad to fight on four fronts.

Joe Hart will start between the sticks for the second match in a row, which is somewhat surprising. It could be argued there was a case for selecting the Shay Given in our Europa and Domestic Cup campaigns, and keeping Hart for the League. By sticking with Joe, he ensures consistency in defence, but may also bring Given's time at the club to an end.

Aleksandar Kolarov picked up an ankle injury in the first half against Tottenham, and won't be fit, nor will the other new defensive signing, Jerome Boateng. James Milner will also be unable to play, signing too late to be named in the squad.

Joleon Lescott will likely make his first appearance this season at left back. Mario Balotelli, Patrick Vieira and Adam Johnson are likely inclusions to the side that drew at Spurs last Saturday.

Fearless Prediction: FC Timisoara 1 - Manchester City 2.

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