Pep’s wrong: ‘Special’ City can win Champions League

first_imgIf Manchester City keep playing like this, even Pep Guardiola might start to believe they can win the Champions League.”In this competition you need something special, and still I don’t feel it,” Guardiola said on the eve of his side’s game against Shakhtar Donetsk.His comments were in part designed to stir up a reaction from the City fans, who have never fully taken to UEFA and its flagship competition, but he also believes his young side’s lack of experience at the highest European level will count against them. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! When you consider that a team with either Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi has won each of the last five Champions Leagues, you feel he may have a point.Yet it is Pep’s side that are favourites this season and, after their shock opening round defeat to Lyon, they have finally arrived in Europe this season.Such was the English champions’ dominance over Shakhtar that the Ukrainian fans resorted to a Mexican wave on the hour-mark. It was 2-0 to the visitors by that point and it could have been so much more.In the end it was three, after Bernardo Silva came on to succeed where some of his team-mates failed; while others slashed at their chances, he kept a cool head to put the game to bed with a precise finish from the edge of the box.David SIlva had got the ball rolling in similar circumstances half an hour in, delivering the goal that City’s blistering start deserved. The Blues probed the hosts from all angles, but with Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus looking particularly wasteful, a goal eluded them until one of their cool-headed midfielders got a sight of goal. Bernardo Silva Raheem Sterling Benjamin Mendy Manchester City Shakhtar Donetsk 231018City could have added a couple more before Aymeric Laporte – perhaps the Blues’ most reliable performer this season – headed in the second.Had Jesus, Mahrez and to a lesser extent Sterling had their shooting boots on this could have been six or seven. Either way, it is enough to put them back on top of Group F, just two games after that surprise home defeat against Lyon.Guardiola may not believe his team are ready to win the big prize but he certainly rates them; he also said on Monday that the first 45 minutes against the French side was their only dip in form this season.They were sluggish and deservedly beaten that night but they have been better since, even if they needed a late comeback to get back on track at Hoffenheim last time out.And on the evidence on Tuesday night they are certainly up and running now.No English side had previously won here and this was perhaps City’s best performance of the season, in any competition. Not bad when you consider they are top of the Premier League, having scored 26 goals in nine games, and came within a missed penalty from beat Liverpool, their supposed bete noir .Also consider that this most polished of performances came with Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva and Kyle Walker on the bench. The only thing you could really hold against them is that they were not as clinical as they could have been, and while that will need to be improved the further they go in this competition, it is hardly the biggest concern in the world right now.Not when you consider the defeat to Lyon, and the concerns that brought about City’s vulnerability to being pressed, to being ‘got at’. Hoffenheim tried it but could not keep it up; Shakhtar simply could not get the ball. The Ukrainians travel to the Etihad Stadium in a fortnight’s time and they will hardly relish the prospect. Neither will many other sides around Europe.last_img read more

Manziel Goes 22nd In NFL Draft

first_imgNEW YORK — The Houston Texans chose defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the first pick in the NFL draft on May 8, while much-vaunted quarterback Johnny Manziel had to wait until pick 22 to get selected.There had been criticism of Clowney’s work ethic last season when playing at college level for South Carolina, and questions about whether the Texans would hold or trade the No. 1 slot, but ultimately Houston went with the powerful defensive lineman.“I just been proving a lot of people wrong throughout my life,” Clowney said. “Growing up, I grew up hard. I always said I’m going to do something great. Hopefully, I’m going to be a Hall of Famer one day.”Manziel sat with a sullen look on his face until Cleveland made its third trade of the round and selected the Texas A&M quarterback, who won the 2012 Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player.“If you call it a slide, I wouldn’t call it that at all,” he said. “I was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.“It’s a great story. It’s great for me to end up there, at a team that has fans that are as passionate as I am on the field.”Manziel’s wait added suspense after the Texans took their time selecting Clowney. Teams normally announce the No. 1 pick in advance, and Houston’s failure to do so had prompted speculation it had soured on the defensive end.Clowney, 21, brings size, speed and power to a lineup that already has 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. However his diligence had been questioned after he slipped from 13 sacks to just three in 2013. Critics said he was protecting himself from injury in his junior year before declaring early for the draft.He is the first defensive player taken first overall since Houston selected another end, Mario Williams, in 2006. Williams now is with Buffalo. Houston also made the top pick in its first season, 2002, taking quarterback David Carr. He never lived up to that billing; the Texans hope Clowney has more of an impact.Tackle Greg Robinson, whose blocking helped Auburn make the national college championship game last season, went second to St. Louis. The Rams owned the pick as the final payment for a 2012 trade with Washington that allowed the Redskins to draft quarterback Robert Griffin III.The first quarterback to go went to Jacksonville in the third slot, but it wasn’t ‘Johnny Football’ Manziel. Instead it was Blake Bortles of Central Florida, whose stock shot up last season and in subsequent workouts. Bortles has drawn comparisons to Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger because of his combination of size and mobility.“He’s a down-to-earth guy, a self-made guy, a blue-collar guy and he wants to be the best he can be,” said Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell, who added a word of caution: “He just needs a little bit of time.”Buffalo traded up to selection No. 4 by sending a first and fourth-round pick in next year’s draft to Cleveland. That enabled the Bills to grab playmaking receiver Sammy Watkins of Clemson.“Dynamic playmaker, and that’s what this game is all about,” Bills GM Doug Whaley said of Watkins. “He’s automatically going to make our quarterback (E.J. Manuel) better.”Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews, the son of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, went to Atlanta with the sixth overall pick.Another Aggies star was chosen next, receiver Mike Evans to Tampa Bay. The 6-4, 231-pound Evans is durable, versatile — and quite emotional. He also couldn’t hold back the tears when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called his name.The crowd thought Manziel might go eighth when Cleveland traded up one spot to get Minnesota’s pick. So when the Browns took cornerback Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State, there was a loud groan from the fans.Minnesota grabbed UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, Detroit selected North Carolina’s Eric Ebron, by far the best tight end in this crop, and Tennessee filled a need on the offensive line with Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan.Finally, a local team had a chance to make a pick and the audience approved lustily when the New York Giants chose Louisiana State receiver Odell Beckham Jr.Beckham was followed by Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald to St. Louis, Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller to Chicago, Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier to Ohio State, Notre Dame guard Zack Martin to Dallas, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley to Baltimore and Louisville safety Calvin Pryor to the New York Jets.Minnesota finished off the opening round by trading with Seattle to select Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, the third quarterback taken.(BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more