By David Hartley
After a first-leg that really couldn’t have gone much better for City, the Blues went into tonight’s game knowing that they are already through to the final. So, with heavy rotation, youth inclusion and match fitness on the agenda, Guardiola named an exciting assortment of names in what turned out to be a fairly routine night for the Blues. It wasn’t very eventful, but it was a professional performance and a 10-0 win to boot. Roll on Wembley (again!).
Here’s how I rated tonight’s performances:
Aro Muric – 8
Our resident cup keeper was the only name that could have been predicted for certain going into tonight’s game. Calm, composed and reliable at the back, Muric was again solid and showed some slick passing out from the back. He was quick off his line to deny any Burton attempts throughout the game and was excellent.
Danilo – 8
I was surprised that Luke Bolton didn’t start at right-back tonight, but I suppose the man of the moment was given a place as the only experienced defender in the experimental back line. On a run of great form, Danilo was again one of the best players in the City side, venturing down the right-hand side to provide an attacking threat throughout.
Eric Garcia – 9 (Man of the Match)
I, much like Guardiola and most City fans, am already in love with Eric Garcia. The young Spaniard was near-flawless tonight against an experienced Burton forward, showing just why the club are so pleased with his development. His positional sense and reading of the game were clear with a superb goal-line clearance towards the end of the game. Comfortable on the ball and a natural leader, Garcia is a joy to watch and could certainly be a City stalwart in years to come.
Phillipe Sandler – 8
With everyone raving about Garcia, it’s easy to forget that Sandler was starting his first game tonight. His solid and assured display (bar that one slip-up which he tried to recover with a sliding head tackle) belied his years and experience and showed why the club have another promising talent on their hands. Maybe we could take a chance on one of these stars in the coming years.
Oleks Zinchenko – 6 (replaced by Nmecha 67’)
Despite his years, Zinchenko was the second most experienced defender in the City starting XI. Drifting inside and playing some lovely passes, Zinchenko had a typically normal Zinchenko performance. There isn’t much more to say.
Fabian Delph – 7
Delph surprisingly started the game in a more advanced midfield role where you’d typically find a David or Bernardo Silva. Delph started the game well, spraying passes out wide to Mahrez at every opportunity, but quickly resorted to being the engine in the middle.
Kevin De Bruyne – 7 (replaced by Mendy 62’)
Not many of us expected to see our Ginger Prince start in the deeper pivot role tonight but the brilliant Belgian worked hard in Fernandinho’s absence. His superb telepathy with Foden led to some lovely football but nothing summed up De Bruyne more than his textbook defence-splitting pass to Mahrez to set up the first goal. A solid showing and more minutes in his recovery.
Phil Foden – 7
The most likely youngster to make it at City in recent years, Foden never looked out of place throughout the game. Amongst the youth on display, Foden was bar far the most experienced and demonstrated some great pieces of play. Quiet for the most part but relatively solid.
Riyad Mahrez – 7
How do we sum up that performance? He’s not happy with his game time, but fans aren’t happy with his performances. Mahrez was by far the most lively of City’s attacking talents on show, but the end product was missing yet again. His assist for Aguero only came after he was selfish in the same scenario just five minutes earlier and missed the target completely. I’m not too sure if he played well, or his was woeful, but he was very fortunate to be awarded MOTM over Garcia.
Ian Carlo Poveda – 6
Poveda was another academy product on show tonight making his debut for the club. His close control and lightning fast footwork left some defenders looking silly but he was relatively quiet throughout. Nothing to be ashamed of in a team of City’s stature and quality and hopefully he can get some more opportunities.
Sergio Agüero – 7 (replaced by Jesus 62’)
Like the other senior players in the side, Aguero was in place to gain some much-needed minutes after Gabriel Jesus’ high-flying run of goals. The Argentine worked hard and ended his performance with a vintage Aguero finish. (Let’s not mention the missed open goal, which fortunately would have been ruled out for offside anyway).
Gabriel Jesus – 6 (on for Aguero 62’)
He wasn’t on for long but Jesus didn’t do a whole lot. His movement was as good and he was unfortunate not to stick away his chance with more conviction. Can’t say much else.
Benjamin Mendy – 6 (on for De Bruyne 62’)
Important minutes for the flying Frenchman on his return from injury. It wasn’t ideal to return on an icy night in Burton but vital opportunity nonetheless. I can’t remember him completing a cross but it’s good to have him back after another injury lay-off.
Felix Nmecha – 6 (on for Zinchenko 67’)
The final academy product on display for the Blues tonight. He didn’t have much to do, or time to do it in, but it was a half-decent showing. Well in Felix!
Bench: Richards, Bolton, Stones, Grimshaw