Football Features

“The latest in a legendary lineage” – Manchester City’s midfield maestro massacres Everton at the Etihad

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 16:11, 21 November 2021

Manchester City dominated Everton at the Etihad, winning 3-0 thanks in part to a Rodri midfield masterclass.

The result moves Pep Guardiola’s men up to just three points behind Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table and was a bold return to form after they lost their last match to Crystal Palace. City were missing Kevin de Bruyne to Covid-19 but made light work of what is admittedly a poor Everton side.

Every City player was superb, of course. From Raheem Sterling who opened the scoring with a supreme finish to Joao Cancelo who set him up with a superhuman pass to young James McAtee who had an eight minute cameo bursting full of promise and joy.

But Rodri was head and shoulders above everyone else. Nominated as man of the match by City themselves, Gary Neville on the Sky broadcast, and, well, anyone who watched the game.

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The Spaniard has really taken his excellent game up several levels this season as he well and truly assumes control of Manchester City’s midfield. He has become the maestro Pep Guardiola has always wanted and craved at the base of midfield; the heir to the lineage begun by Sergio Busquets at Barcelona and continued by Xabi Alonso at Bayern Munich. The latest in a legendary lineage.

Rodri ran the show against Everton, rotating the ball so sharply to ensure that the Toffees never got a look. He had the joint-most touches in the game (123), the most passes attempted and completed (108/115 @ 94%), the fourth-most passes in the final third (33). He also won 3/3 aerial duels and 2/3 tackles in addition to making an interception and creating a single chance.

Oh, and he scored the second goal of the game. The goal that turned City’s dominant but nervy 1-0 lead into one of their commanding 2-0 scorelines. Seriously, this goal was something special, reminiscent of Vincent Kompany’s against Leicester at the back end of 2018/19.

After a City attack broke down, the ball bounced out to Rodri who came onto the ball about 30 yards from goal and then just absolutely just leathered it. He connected sweeter than the last piece of the jigsaw slotting into place and launched that thing like the Saturn V rocket.

The ball flew off his foot with the speed and fury of a Mike Tyson hook and was just as devastating. Even with fully-sized human arms, Jordan Pickford would have never been able to stop it, so sweet and so powerful this phenomenal strike.

After Rodri’s goal, the game became something of a procession as City tried to conjured the most ridiculous ways to score. Bernardo Silva bundled home a third and Raheem Sterling skewed a sitter into the arms of Pickford.

But as the final whistle blew, City knew that they owed their win to their midfield maestro, their special Spaniard, the ridiciulously resplendent Rodri. With him at the base of midfield you can only wonder how far Pep Guardiola’s men can go this season.


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