With only four days remaining until the 2011 Herbalife World Football Challenge friendly featuring Vancouver Whitecaps FC taking on English Premier League (EPL) giants Manchester City FC on Bell Pitch at Empire Field, whitecapsfc.com presents part four of their six-part series on ‘The Citizens’. In today’s preview, City’s midfielders are on the agenda.
Often puzzling their opposition in the EPL, the midfield men in sky blue have modernized the position through their variety of skill-sets, strengths, and intangibles with one main purpose: control the pace of play. Their midfield core is composed of a perfect combination of wisdom and energy; masterful veterans with high levels of intelligence and experience mixed with young, dynamic talent who provide dangerous amounts of speed and athleticism to wreak havoc on opponents in all areas of the pitch.
City’s midfield is led by one of Spain’s most accomplished players, David Silva. The 25-year-old attacking midfielder joined ‘The Blues’ last season and made 53 appearances, scoring six times, while adding 15 assists. His presence and experience has been a key for the club in their quest to return to prominence and become top dogs in the EPL. Silva is no stranger to silverware, as he has captured the 2008 UEFA European Championship title and 2010 FIFA World Cup in only 48 caps with Spain. Prior to joining City, he spent four seasons with La Liga side Valencia CF, where he captured the 2007-08 Copa del Rey title. Silva also featured in Spain’s youth national team program, winning the 2004 UEFA European U-19 Championship title.
City also possesses one of the world's quickest and most lethal midfielders in Yaya Touré. The 28-year-old Ivory Coast star joined Silva with ‘The Citizens’ in 2010 after spending three seasons in La Liga with FC Barcelona. His skill-set and athleticism have at times allowed him to assume the role of secondary striker for City - one that saw him score 10 goals in 48 appearances. Touré’s club achievements throughout his career are second to none, claiming back-to-back La Liga titles in 2008-09 and 2009-10, while also capturing the 2008-09 Copa del Rey, 2009 Supercopa de Espana, 2008-09 UEFA Champions League, 2009 UEFA Super Cup, and the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup. In his first season with City, he continued to add to his astonishing trophy case, as he helped City capture the 2011 English FA Cup in a 1-0 victory over Stoke City FC, where he was awarded ‘Man of the Match’ honours after scoring City’s winning goal.
While Silva and Touré assume the offensive and experience components, City also encompasses one of the game's most feared defensive midfielders in Nigel De Jong. The Dutchman, whose nickname is, ‘der Rasenmaher’, meaning ‘The Lawnmower’, joined City in 2008 and has recorded 98 appearances for the club. De Jong’s nickname stems from his reputation of ‘competitive’ tackles against opponents. However, despite dislike from many opposing fans, De Jong’s presence has proven valuable, as evidenced by his role in helping the Netherlands to a second-place finish at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Like wine, City also boasts some players in their midfield who appear to be getting better with age. That description perfectly describes Gareth Barry, a 30-year-old Englishman who joined City in 2009 and who has become a strong leader for the club. Barry’s experience in the EPL has been a noble journey, appearing in 441 matches with former club Aston Villa FC from 1997 to 2009. Blessed with a nose for goal, Barry contributed 52 times for ‘The Villains’ and has become a consistent figure with England, having captained The Three Lions during his career.
During his tenure with City, Barry has played alongside countrymen Shaun Wright-Phillips, Adam Johnson, and James Milner. Wright-Phillips, who possesses lightning speed and agility, is currently in his second stint with City after playing for the club from 1998 to 2005. After transferring to Chelsea FC in 2005, Phillips returned to East Manchester in 2008, signing a four-year contract. His
Last but not least is Slovakian Vladimir Weiss. The 21-year old prospect has been with Man City since 2009 and has been on loan with Bolton Wanderers FC and Scottlsh giants Rangers FC through much of that time. Internationally, Weiss has featured in 18 matches with the Slovakian national team – including the 2010 FIFA World Cup – and will likely be on display for much of the World Football Challenge.
Sporting an impressive list of club and international achievements, the group now look to build on their exceptional resumes and bring silverware to Manchester City. To do that, they will be keen to help City improve on their plus-27 goal differential in the EPL last season in order to dictate the flow of matches and ultimately impose their will. With outstanding balance and supreme depth in midfield, Manchester City will present a formidable challenge for Whitecaps FC on Monday, July 18, at Empire Field.
On Monday, July 18, at 7 p.m. PT, Vancouver Whitecaps FC host this year’s English FA Cup winners, Manchester City FC, in an international friendly match as part of this year's Herbalife World Football Challenge. Fans can purchase tickets at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, or Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.866.646.2277).