Raheem Sterling has always had the ability to become one of the best forwards in the world – pace, trickery, goals and hard work – he’s got the lot.
But this season he’s added more belief and confidence than ever before.
Some of his dribbling and movement against Hoffenheim was sensational and he was desperately unlucky not to cap his evening with one, maybe two goals.
His mesmerising first-half run that saw him cut through the home defence like a knife through butter, was ended with a nudge/loss of balance as he skipped past the last man.
It would have been one of the best goals he’d ever scored had he found the target and only the keeper’s heel denied him shortly after.
It’s hard to believe he’s still only 23 – what a talent.
In three months, David Silva turns 33 – yet you’d have thought he was 10 years younger than that age against Hoffenheim.
Allowed the space to operate and weave his magic, it was a masterclass from a player who glides around the pitch with such grace and guile.
His passing range is breath-taking, and he even popped up with a crucial winning goal.
Pep Guardiola has coached, among others, such luminaries as Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta, yet he says Silva is one of the very best he’s had the pleasure of managing.
His vision and skill will always be there – he’s not going to lose pace anytime soon because it’s the speed of his brain that sets him apart – so there’s no reason he can’t keep doing what he’s doing for the next three years.
GROUP F WIDE OPEN?
City will be favourites to win Group F and understandably so – but anyone who predicted the Blues would stroll into the Round of 16 are now recalculating that assumption.
Hoffenheim are capable of progressing through the group stages and will count themselves unlucky not to have earned a point against City.
That’s not to say the 2-1 win wasn’t deserved, but the Germans have an energy and adventurous style that will cause teams problems, particularly on home soil.
In last night's other group game, Lyon and Shakhtar slugged it out like two heavyweight boxers, with the Ukrainians in control and leading 2-0 before Lyon roared back to leave their opponents on the ropes and willing the final whistle to be blown. Proof, if needed, that there really are no easy games in this competition
Every game has been open and entertaining, and all four teams are capable of beating one another.
It may not be a group of death, but it’s one where every team is going for it and with every fixture so far averaging at least three goals, it could be a roller-coaster ride up until the finish line.
A goal behind in 48 seconds and a noisy, partisan home crowd to temper, things could have gone from bad to worse for City against Hoffenheim.
True, the Blues’ back-line will be disappointed to have conceded the goal in the manner they did, but the response that followed was superb.
City took the game to Hoffenheim and were level six minutes later and could have been out of sight by the break had all the opportunities been converted.
The hosts remained a threat on the break, but gradually, the Blues took command and had more chances to score.
A penalty should have been given for the keeper’s foul on Sane, but in the end, it didn’t matter with Silva’s goal sealing a gritty and determined comeback – one that delighted Pep Guardiola.
Source: Manchester City FC / David Clayton