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FA Coummunity Shield: Five men who were brilliant for City in thrilling win

Raheem Sterling helped City win the FA Community Shield.
Raheem Sterling helped City win the FA Community Shield.

Manchester City and Liverpool marked the start of the football season with a blockbuster clash in the FA Community Shield on Sunday. Last season, these two clubs had gifted football fans a roller-coaster ride throughout the year, ensuring that the Premier League was decided only on the final day of the season.

The Community Shield is generally played between the Premier League Champion and the F. A. Cup winner at the start of the new season, but because Manchester City won the domestic treble, Premier League runners-up Liverpool lined up to face them on the night. The two teams had contrasting fortunes in the pre-season, however, this was the first competitive game of the season for both sides and both managers tried to name their best possible eleven for the night.

Pep Guardiola started with Claudio Bravo in goal, with Kyle Walker, John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi and Oleksandr Zinchenko as the back four. He put new signing Rodrigo Hernandez in the holding role and stationed David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne either side of the Spaniard. The front three consisted of Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva.

Jurgen Klopp continued with Alisson Becker in goal, and set up a back four of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson. In the midfield, Klopp opted for Georgino Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson alongside Fabinho, while up front, Divock Origi partnered Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in attack.

Manchester City started the game very well and were soon in front when Sterling scored in the 12th minute. The first half ended 1-0, with the Premier League Champions very much in control of the game. However, Liverpool were the better side in the second half and equalized through Joel Matip in the 77h minute. The game ultimately went to penalties, which City won 5-4.

Pep Guardiola started the new season on a high and he will be extremely pleased with the performance of these five men, who were brilliant against Liverpool.


#5 Rodrigo Hernandez

Rodrigo Hernandez looked sharp against Liverpool
Rodrigo Hernandez looked sharp against Liverpool

Pep Guardiola bought Rodrigo Hernandez this summer as a long time replacement for the aging Fernandinho. While it is almost an impossible task replacing the Brazilian at the heart of the City midfield, it was clear that Guardiola had seen qualities in Hernandez that are well suited for the role.

The Spaniard is extremely comfortable on the ball and looked very relaxed in the field. Even under intense pressure from the opposition, Hernandez was extremely decisive with his passing and decision-making. He helped City take control of the game and dictated the tempo of the game with ease. Hernandez regularly slotted between the City defense to help out his back line. Even though his effectiveness died down in the second half, Rodri showed that he could turn out to be an absolute bargain for City.


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Pep Guardiola will be a pleased man.
Pep Guardiola will be a pleased man.

#4 Kevin de Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne picked up from where he left off last season.
Kevin De Bruyne picked up from where he left off last season.

The Belgian maestro Kevin De Bruyne started with a new holding midfielder alongside him, which meant that he had to be restrained and careful on the field. However, with Rodri excelling in his role, De Bruyne gradually came into his normal adventurous self and helped City stay a step ahead of Liverpool in the first half.

A big feature of the City attack was the Belgian’s late runs from the deep, which fooled his markers and regularly opened up the opposition. His final balls were also accurate, however, City were not decisive enough in front of goal.

De Bruyne continued to pick up pockets of spaces in the final third whenever City were in possession. When the Premier League Champions lost the ball, De Bruyne dropped down and helped City stay compact at the back. However, the Belgian was not a 100% fit, and it was evident when he picked up an injury and had to be replaced in the later stages of the game.

#3 Bernardo Silva

Bernardo Silva.
Bernardo Silva.

The Portuguese was recently snubbed for the final 10 man shortlist for the Best FIFA Men’s Player of the year for 2019. Bernardo Silva might have been frustrated by FIFA's move, but he stayed silent and let his feet do the talking. Against Liverpool, Silva started on the right forward role and excelled once again. The Portuguese showed quick feet to regularly venture into the box and gave Andrew Robertson nightmares on the field.

Andrew Robertson had a tough day.
Andrew Robertson had a tough day.

Despite starting in an attacking role, Silva dropped down and often initiated attacks from the deep. His long balls were a treat for the eyes, as he switched flanks and kept the opposition on their toes. He was skillful as usual with the ball at his feet, and without the ball, he worked extremely hard to regain possession.

The Portuguese was great at tight spaces and combined well with Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne on the field. When the game went into penalties, Bernardo Silva stepped up and converted his spot kick with style, helping City lift their first Silverware of the new season.

Raheem Sterling combined well with Silva.
Raheem Sterling combined well with Silva.

#2 Claudio Bravo

Claudio Bravo<p>
Claudio Bravo

The Chilean custodian Claudio Bravo had a rare start in between the sticks, as Pep Guardiola opted to keep his trusted lieutenant Ederson on the bench.

However, he showed great composure on the field, seamlessly slotting into City’s style of playing out from the back. Bravo regularly played out from the back, but also showed great reflexes to keep Liverpool at bay from the start, saving well from a Roberto Firmino turn and shot early in the first half.

Roberto Firmino was foiled by Bravo early on.
Roberto Firmino was foiled by Bravo early on.

Bravo continued to keep the Liverpool attack at bay, displaying a class and form that had convinced Pep Guardiola to bring him to the Etihad a few seasons ago.

The Chilean gave a fantastic account of himself in the first half, as City went into the break with the score at 1-0. Bravo continued his brilliant form in the second half, and kept on denying Liverpool in their quest for the equalizer. Sadly, he was powerless in the 77th minute as Joel Matip brought Liverpool back into the game. However, Bravo still had a stellar role to play in the game.

As the game went into penalties, the Chilean managed to save Wijnaldum’s kick and helped City win the Community Shield.

Bravo was brilliant in the shoot-out
Bravo was brilliant in the shoot-out.

#1 Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling.<p>
Raheem Sterling.

Raheem Sterling started the game as a false nine, with Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva either side of him. Sterling combined well with Sane in the start of the game but then had to change his position after the German winger picked up an injury and had to be replaced.

And even as the change was happening, the Englishman made a telling contribution to the game in the 12th minute. Kevin De Bruyne passed the ball to David Silva, who flicked it in the path of Sterling. Despite the height on the pass, the Englishman managed to connect with the ball. Alisson did get a hand to it, but could not keep it out.

David Silva.
David Silva.

Immediately after the goal, Gabriel Jesus entered the field as the No.9 and Sterling slipped to the left. The Englishman continued his brilliant start to the game and gave Trent Alexander-Arnold a harrowing time on the field. He also robbed Joe Gomez off the ball on a couple of occasions. However, Sterling was guilty of missing quite a few chances and had he been a little more decisive, City could have won the game in normal time.

But there’s no denying the fact that Raheem Sterling was City’s best player on the pitch and he should be gearing up for an even bigger season ahead.

Manchester City- A job well done.
Manchester City- A job well done.

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Edited by S Chowdhury
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