One of the best things to experience in the realm of sport is the evolution of a partnership from ground zero to one of destiny. While there have been several attempts at forging one of these classic unions – Ronaldo/Bale and Messi/Neymar – none has been more prosperous than Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo. Yesterday, the two shined again. By Nate Davis.
It is premature to anoint the Aguero/Negredo partnership as classic, however, the pace at which the Manchester City striking duo is scoring goals is more terrifying than any in the game right now. Remember, the duo have only played together since August. The fruits of their labor could be a product of beginner’s luck and might fizzle out throughout the grueling domestic and European campaigns, but it would be foolish to assume this scenario will take place. The five goals between the assassins up front for the Citizens on Tuesday not only showed Manuel Pellegrini they should be the regular starters, but promoted Manchester City into the final 16 of the Champions League for the first time in club history.
Negredo, otherwise known as “The Beast” by the Eastlands faithful – a self-imposed moniker that the Spaniard has lived up to – has proven to be the best of the five summer signings. His hat trick against the Russian champions brought his goal total to nine this year for the Sky Blues. The Beast only trails the Batman to his Robin, as the talismanic Aguero has netted 13. The Argentine is proving his Chilean manager right in being one of the five best players on the planet. He has been the best player in the Premier League this season, only rivaled at this moment by his teammate, Yaya Toure, and trails only Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo for goals scored in the Champions League.
It was a historic moment Tuesday as Man City qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League, but Pellegrini and his overlords know their ambitions don’t stop there. It is an achievement the old guard couldn’t attain with Roberto Mancini steering the ship, and while many supporters of his – there are quite a bit left in Manchester – would argue he would have progressed in this comparatively easier group, it shows that no matter what the situation, the owners have made it clear, this is the competition from which they want the spoils most of all.
The recurring theme this season for the Citizens was again present against CSKA, as Seydou Doumbia found the back of the net twice. What were once described as anomalies by the Manchester manager, the defensive lapses have become something the supporters reluctantly expect. The front office will no doubt address this issue in the January transfer window, as the injury-hampered Kompany strives to become match fit, once again.
While the squad in powder blue lack a consistent back four, their attacking options have saved the day more than once this season. The old guard of Yaya Toure, David Silva, Samir Nasri and the aforementioned Aguero looks like the title winning side from two years ago. If their form continues, both Toure and Aguero will contend for the player of the year in the Premier League. The boys from Sevilla have proved to be worth their expensive transfer amounts as Navas and Negredo have tortured defenses this season, the latter almost in each match.
The attacking tandem of Aguero and Negredo must continue, even if Edin Dzeko is reluctant to retain his title of being a “super-sub.” Pellegrini is undoubtedly pleased with his squad’s progression to the group stage, but now he has achieved this feat, the bar will once again rise as it did for Mancini. For now, he can focus on the domestic campaign, where City must improve from their 7th place current standing.