Days after the ” Clash of the Cash “, Manchester City travel to Cyprus to face Omonia Nicosia in the first round of the UEFA Cup.
Both teams have gone through both the initial qualification rounds. City beat Faroese club EB 4-0 ( aggregate) in the first qualification round, and then needed penalties to beat Denmark’s FC Midtjylland in the second qualification round. Their last Premiership fixture, against Chelsea, in which Robinho scored on his debut, saw them lose 1-3. Michael Johnson was missed in central midfield, and while he has travelled with the squad to Cyprus, it remains unclear whether he will start. One definite absentee is Bulgarian winger Martin Petrov. We could also see the return of Brazilian playmaker Elano. Hughes may do a bit of a rotating with his players, given that this is a busy period for City. Shaun Wright Philips was City’s standout player against Chelsea, and we could expect the same from him against Omonia. We could see Ben Haim and Javi Garrido come into defence in place of Ball and Dunne/Zabaleta.
Omonia finished third in the Cypriot First Division last season, sixteen points behind Anorthosis and five points behind APOEL. They beat FC Milano in the first qualification round, and produced one of the shocks of the second qualification round when they sent Greek giants AEK Athens out of the competition. Midfielder Klorian Duro scored twice in the second leg, and City would view him as one of their main threats, along with winger Clayton, and forward Yiannis Okkas. Okkas and Duro have both been on target in the domestic league too. In comparison to City, who have had a mixed start to the season, Omonia have won both their league games, beating Paralimni and Alki by identical two goal margins. They have not conceded a goal yet, and are fairly high on confidence.
City have the better players, but are yet to gel as a unit. They can be troubled, as Midtjylland proved in the second qualification round. Omonia have home support, and with a decent performance, they should be able to come out with a point at the NEO GSP Stadium. A 1-1, with Jo and Duro on the scoresheet.