18 Aug

In terms of musical rhythm, the Aviva stadium is a huge disappointment when compared to Istanbul, but City fans will care not a jot if we manage to be competing there come the Europa League final. Having adopted the popular song ‘Istanbul, we are coming’ from two seasons ago, merely replacing the Turkish city with the afore-mentioned Irish ground this time around, Thursday’s match against FC Timişoara is the first stepping stone in accomplishing our aim.

Although a passionate football fan, my knowledge unsurprisingly does not quite extend to the Romanian team who finished fifth in their Liga 1. Therefore, the vast majority of information on the hosts is taken from other websites, and thus, I feel it would not be right to have the ‘key battles’ section for this tie.

From past experience, I know that European away trips are a most exciting venture for supporters, eager to travel abroad to follow their beloved team, and this trip to Romania, a country steeped in culture and tradition, will prove to be just that. The ground, Dan Păltinişanu Stadium, which incidentally is a nightmare to type, holds 32,019 and was only renovated last year.

Fc timisoara stadium dp.jpg

City manager and my good friend Roberto Mancini again has some tricky selection dilemmas as he contemplates which side to play. In goal, Joe Hart was superb against Spurs and will keep his place despite midweek rumours suggesting Irish number one Shay Given may start. Jerome Boateng has not travelled with the squad due to injury, nor has Aleksandar Kolarov who is sidelined for at least two weeks, so Joleon Lescott can expect to occupy the left back role, whilst Micah Richards faces a fight from Pablo Zabaleta for the right back berth.

Exciting winger Adam Johnson is pushing for a start, in place of Shaun Wright-Phillips, and it would be a surprise to see Mancini retain the defensive midfield triumvirate of de Jong, Barry and Yaya Touré. As regards strikers, Manu Adebayor is expected to join Carlos Tévez up front, whilst new signing Mario Balotelli, who replaced Roque Santa Cruz in this squad, will be on the bench as he settles in to the club. Fellow new arrival James Milner was not registered in time to play.

This would be my team to play, although Mancini will no doubt think differently:


Zabaleta                 K. Touré                        Kompany                  Lescott

                                   Y. Touré                          Vieira

A. Johnson                                   Tévez                                             Silva


Subs: Given, Richards, Cunningham, de Jong, Barry, SWP, Balotelli


Prediction: Our Romanian hosts should not be taken lightly, as they have shown their capabilities over the past couple of seasons in European competition, notably drawing with Ajax, Andelecht and Shakhtar Donetsk. However, as I’m in an optimistic mood, I’ll will predict FC Timişoara 13 MAN CITY, with goals from Mircea Axente, Manu Adebayor, Adam Johnson and Carlos Tévez.


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