With the recent Champions League defeat and uproar over Carlos Tevez’s refusal to play, City desperately needed a big win over struggling Blackburn to get back on track. Despite Tevez’s suspension, Dzeko being kept out of the starting lineup, and Aguero’s early injury, the game saw controversial Mario Balotelli step up as the star forward.
In my mind, Balotelli was the man of the match. Throughout the entire game, Balotelli was constantly buzzing and working to get chances, a whopping total of 8 in all. Despite hitting the post and just missing a few early chances, he continued to get open and take shots. Eventually, one did fall for him with an unorthodox finish using the bottom of his cleats. He even dropped in to help on defense when needed, something that would surprise many. It would be hard for Mancini to keep him out of the starting line up in the next match.
Below are some general team statistics from the game:
As expected, City continued their domination of possession against Blackburn. With 3 players in the middle, City are content to hold the ball and wait for their chances, evident from holding a 2 to 1 advantage in possession. They also seemed to shy away from the longer balls, preferring to stay in possession. Blackburn actually held the advantage 49-48 in total long balls. Overall, City’s pass completion was a near-perfect 90%, a staggering percentage. In comparison, Blackburn only held a 76% passing completion percentage.
Without true outside midfielders, Mancini relies on the wing backs to attack and get forward a lot. City crossed the ball a total of 22 times, 8 of which came from left back Kolarov, another player who had a strong game in my mind. Kolarov’s left footed services and direct kicks are very dangerous.
Overall, Blackburn did a decent job of holding a scoreless draw for a good period of the game. It was inevitable that City would eventually put one of their many chances in the back of the net. Once that happened, the game opened up, with Blackburn forced to attack more to try to get an equalizer. Once this happened, it was tough to stop Balotelli’s constant work to find chances in the box. With Balotelli’s performance on the field, most City fans easily put the Tevez uproar behind them.