Ilkay Gundogan, Fernandinho boss proceedings in Basel for Man City - Whazupnaija - Nigeria blogs, News & Entertainment

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Ilkay Gundogan, Fernandinho boss proceedings in Basel for Man City

Ilkay Gundogan, Fernandinho boss proceedings in Basel for Man City
Ilkay Gundogan scored twice as Manchester City put one foot in the Champions League quarterfinals with a dominant win over FC Basel.
Ilkay Gundogan scored twice as Manchester City put one foot in the Champions League quarterfinals with a dominant win over FC Basel.
The ESPN FC crew debate whether Manchester City’s 4-0 victory was the result of brilliant team play or a poor opponent.

The Manchester City juggernaut was eased into cruise control for large spells of their Champions League tie with FC Basel and with four away goals to their name and a clean sheet, you’d have to think the heavy lifting from Pep Guardiola’s side has all been done in the first leg. This was far from City’s best display of the season, but they made it look easy against the Swiss champions.

Positives

With the tie as good as won, City can now focus on their FA Cup and League Cup challenges in Wigan and Arsenal. Even with one or two hairy moments at the back, Guardiola’s men ran away with the game and created chances for fun, especially in the first half when they slotted three away. As the important games begin to pile up, a gimme of a second leg is most certainly welcome.

Negatives

The defending may worry Guardiola. Despite looking comfortable for large spells, there were mistakes in the back four, especially in the early stages, while Nicolas Otamendi could have gifted Basel a goal and a penalty in the first half.

Manager rating out of 10

8 — Guardiola’s side eased off in the second half, but at 4-0 up it’s easy to understand why. The display was clinical, and it got the job done by half-time.

Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Ederson Moraes, 7 — The goalkeeper was perhaps more tested than he would have expected to have been in this game, having to rush out to sweep up a few times and having to pull off several saves at key times. He was equal to everything, though, and cool as a cucumber under pressure.

DF Kyle Walker, 7 — The defender was motoring up and down the right flank all evening, providing vital support to Bernardo Silva ahead of him, but also staying strong at the back when necessary.

DF Nicolas Otamendi, 5 — After an almost faultless season so far, the centre-back looked more than a little shaky at times — though his nerves were never punished by the Basel attack. He could have gifted the hosts a goal early on and he should have conceded a penalty in the first half at 0-0. However, as City moved through the gears, he got his act together and had settled down by the end.

DF Vincent Kompany, 6 — There’s an unfortunate nervousness among City fans whenever the captain is now named in the team. It’s not because of his ability, that isn’t in doubt — but he’s always one stretch or knock away from another injury setback. That didn’t stop him from throwing his body in front of everything at Basel, though.

MF Fabian Delph, 6 — Back to deputise at left-back, the midfielder slotted straight in where he’d left off. He was excellent at cutting inside with possession and had his side of the back four marshalled well.

MF Fernandinho, 8 — It’s doesn’t really seem possible for him to be as under the radar as he is, but once again Fernandinho went through the match anchoring the City midfield and setting them off on the break without anybody noticing the hard work he was getting through. It was a superb showing.

MF Ilkay Gundogan, 9 — In front of his international manager, Joachim Low, the German midfielder will have done his World Cup hopes no harm. Two excellent goals — a delightful header and a peach of a curler from the edge of the box — crowned off his box-to-box display, though he should have had a hat trick but for a wonderful save from Tomas Vaclik.

MF Kevin De Bruyne, 7 — An altogether quiet performance from De Bruyne shows just how high he’s raising the bar at City. He was the creative spark in the middle and yet still seemed to have a quiet evening.

Ilkay Gundogan celebrates the second of his two goals vs. Basel.
Ilkay Gundogan was the surprise hero against Basel, scoring two well-taken goals for Man City.

MF Bernardo Silva, 8 — The creative midfielder is looking right at home in City’s side these days and his display in Basel was another to add to his growing portfolio of good performances. While the keeper should have saved his goal, it still needed finishing and it wasn’t an easy chance to hit.

MF Raheem Sterling, 7 — It was a more subdued performance than ones recently for the winger, as he couldn’t seem to find the space he likes to exploit. He never went hiding and was always available for the ball, but he couldn’t impact the game like he has done previously this season.

FW Sergio Aguero, 7 — A super strike for 3-0 was the highlight of his display and the striker led the line very well, dragging Basel defenders all over the shop with his movement. He did take a trip down a few blind alleys later on, though.

Substitutes

MF Leroy Sane, 6 — Replacing Sterling just before the hour, the German got some encouraging minutes on the pitch, but definitely looked rusty.

MF David Silva, 6 — The game was won when he replaced De Bruyne on 63 minutes, but still the midfielder kept the ball moving intelligently.

DF Danilo, NR — A late swap for Aguero, Danilo still found time to have a smash at goal from the edge of the box. He just can’t help himself.

David Mooney is ESPN FC’s Manchester City blogger. Twitter: @DavidMooney

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