City started their Champions League campaign in fine fashion on Wednesday, beating Feyenoord 4-0 in Rotterdam. Club journalist Rob Pollard has taken a closer look at the match.
At the home of the Dutch champions, in the land that gave rise to Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff, City produced a performance so complete it could have been bracketed as Total Football.
They moved the ball quickly and with purpose, carving out clear chances throughout the game, with their pace, power, and intricate passing moves too much for the Dutch side to handle.
But, perhaps most pleasingly for Guardiola, they chased and harried Feyenoord out of their stride when the ball was lost, working hard to recover possession as quickly as possible. The home side simply couldn’t settle.
Right from the off, City were superior, and by the end they had registered 72 per cent possession, and nine shots to Feyenoord’s three. They were 3-0 up inside 25 minutes in one of the most one-sided Champions League matches you’re likely to see, and from there never looked like ceding superiority.
Feyenoord barely got into City’s half, with Guardiola’s side delivering a footballing lesson in Europe’s elite Club competition.
De Bruyne class
If there were City fans out there who wondered whether Kevin De Bruyne could get better, he’s given them an emphatic answer so far this season.
In a new, deep-lying midfield role that sees him take the ball from the back four and start attacks from inside his own half, De Bruyne’s passing ability, which is up there with the finest in the game, is being utilised brilliantly.
He again registered an assist in this match – a pinpoint cross for John Stones – his sixth of the season already.
Guardiola said afterwards he is one of the best players he’s ever seen. No one would question his assertion given his form right now.
Bernardo edging closer to his best
A truncated preseason due to involvement at this summer’s Confederations Cup means Bernardo Silva’s start to life at City has been slightly delayed. He’s been eased into the side by Guardiola, who has looked to get his new signing match sharp before fully unleashing him in big matches.
But he started the game at the De Kuip and took another giant step towards full match fitness, delivering a superb performance that showcased his playmaking ability.
There are very few players in world football as assured as Bernardo on the ball. He rarely gives it away, can turn in tight spaces and has the ability to produce defence-splitting passes.
He could prove to be a very significant signing for City.
Stones at the double
For the first time in his professional career, John Stones scored twice in a match.
But not only was he lethal inside the Feyenoord box, he was assured defensively, just as he was in Saturday’s 5-0 win over Liverpool.
Stones is undoubtedly improving under Guardiola’s tutelage and City have in their midst perhaps the most talented young English defender of a generation.
A special must also go to the travelling City fans, who were superb throughout the game.
The home supporters create an intimidating atmosphere, and before the game they were making plenty of noise.
But the players silenced them with a brilliant display and the travelling Blues took over.
This really was the perfect European away night.