City’s shock defeat by Lyon raised concerns regarding the team’s leadership and capacity to think independently, as well as a susceptibility to pressing
It’s one game, at the beginning of the group stage. There is plenty of time to recover. For Manchester City, defeat by Lyon on Wednesday is likely to be no more than a blip. Even in an underwhelming display, they had more than twice as many shots as their opponents and, more often than not, would probably have won. There is no reason to panic. But that is not to say there are no reasons for concern.
What will be most worrying are the recurring issues. Pep Guardiola, we are told, has worked on new patterns of play for this season’s Champions League, different ways of breaking down obdurate opponents. City had begun each of the five league games this season in a different shape. The aim appears to be even more flexibility, a greater range of options for games against the elite. Perhaps it’s natural that it will take time for those to be assimilated and given that Guardiola teams in the recent past have had a tendency to peak early and blow themselves out by March, it’s not necessarily the worst sign if they are not quite yet at their best.