Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughManchester City v Villareal: Can City top their Champions League group? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Manchester City v Villareal: Can City top their Champions League group? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Manchester City v Villareal: Can City top their Champions League group?

The Champions League returns to action tonight, and while Bayern Munich and Napoli battle it out for first place in Group A, Manchester City and Villarreal will face off at the Etihad Stadium attempting to get back into contention in the group.

Villarreal were the least fancied side in the toughest group in the Champions League, so it’s not a surprise that they’re at the foot of the group with zero points from their first two matches, but to see such a talented side with only two wins in 11 matches this season is no doubt a shock to those who’ve wasted their football free bets on them.

However, many would have expected to see City in first or second instead of the third position that they occupy after picking up only one point from their opening fixtures against Napoli and Bayern Munich.  Still, the Premier League table toppers are being tipped for big things in Europe this season, and they are heavy favorites for tonight’s match.


After finishing third in the Premier League last season, City were expected to make a serious run at the title this season, and it looks like they’re on track to fulfill those lofty expectations.  After Saturday’s 4-1 rout of Aston Villa, combined with Manchester United’s draw at Liverpool, City have a two-point lead over their city rivals going into this weekend’s highly-anticipated derby showdown.  City have been in fine form in attack this season, scoring 27 goals in eight Premier League matches, and they’ve been fairly tight at the back as well, surrendering only six goals.

However, their first foray into Europe’s top club competition in more than 40 years hasn’t turned out nearly as well thus far.  Perhaps a lack of team experience at this level or the weight of pressure have been issues, but they’ve also had to contend with two extremely tough matches in Napoli at home and Bayern away.  Against Napoli, they needed an Aleksandar Kolarov equalizer to cancel out Edinson Cavani’s strike in a 1-1 draw, while in Munich, they had several opportunities but were ultimately undone by two Mario Gomez goals late in the first half in a 2-0 defeat.

New additions Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri have both starred in the Premier League thus far, along with Edin Dzeko and David Silva, and those four will be integral to City’s attempts to prove that they’re as legitimate a European contender as they are a Premier League contender.

Of course, what’s dominated the headlines almost as much as their form, at least as of late, is the latest goings-on in the Carlos Tevez soap opera.  Tevez won’t be in the squad tonight or anytime soon, if City have their way, but it looks like they’re surviving just fine without their former captain.


Villarreal finished fourth in La Liga last season, and thanks to a playoff round win over Danish side Odense, qualified for the Champions League proper for the third time in the last seven seasons.

However, their start to this season has been extremely disappointing, and they face an uphill climb to repeat their top-four finish and to continue their stay in Europe past December.  They’ve won only once in seven matches in La Liga, and after Saturday’s goalless draw at Getafe, they currently sit 14th in the table with only seven points, 10 behind table-topping Barcelona and eight behind fourth-placed Sevilla.  In the Champions League, they’ve opened with back-to-back defeats, going down 2-0 at home to Bayern and 2-0 at Napoli.

The summer sale of playmaker Santi Cazorla to Malaga has no doubt been felt, and the recent loss of Nilmar to a knee injury is a big blow, but they have enough talent to not be discounted as a threat tonight, led by Giuseppe Rossi, who has three goals this season after scoring more than 30 in all competitions last season.  The Italy international will need to put in a top-class performance tonight if Villarreal are to have a chance at a positive result.

If Villarreal are able to come away with even a draw, it’d be a boost for the short-term job security of under-fire manager Juan Carlos Garrido, who received a vote of confidence from club president Fernando Roig last week.

However, even if Rossi produces his best tonight, it’s hard to see it preventing City for picking up their first group win and throwing themselves back into the thick of the race for top spot in Group A.

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