Players on fire but not yet idolized
Both authors of a start of the season, Raheem Sterling and Sadio Mane do not seem to be appreciated at fair value in the UK. On the side of Manchester City, the 14 goals and 5 assists of the twirling English winger in all competitions do not manage to make the team of the team or even the darling of the fans. The fans of the SkyBlues prefer him willingly the serial striker Aguero or even the master to play David Silva.
And yet this season, neither the Argentinian nor the Spaniard are able to follow the rhythm of the Etihad Stadium Wisp, as confusing as it is efficient. A situation that even earned him the compliments of Jurgen Klopp this week. "He's always been a big threat and he's getting better and better," said the German coach in a press conference, "He's good with City, good with England." (…) There's nothing like bad to say about him, he is exceptional. "
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Also a little in the shadow of Mohamed Salah in Liverpool, Sadio Mane made a hot start with 10 goals and 5 offerings in 16 appearances this season. Yet only Anfield's Pharaoh seems to attract light.
Pep Guardiola understood this and decided to put pressure on the Senegalese before the shock. After accusing him of diving, causing even a little controversy between the two rival clubs, the Catalan technician recalled the importance of the African winger. "I did not mean to say that Sadio Mane is the kind of player who dives, especially since I admire him a lot."
Sterling member of a well oiled collective
If Sadio Mane and Raheem Sterling have been on the water since the beginning of the season and finally seem able to draw a good recognition, the comparison between the two wingers does not stop there. On the one hand, the Englishman was replaced in the left corridor, on his "bad" foot, by Pep Guardiola and is only one of the many wheels of the offensive Armada of the Cityzens.
In the Premier League for example, the 24-year-old Briton multiplies the actions in the service of the collective game put in place by his coach. Thus, Raheem Sterling has already completed 24 centers this season for a total of 368 passes. Yet fast and dribbling, the member of the Three Lions put his supersonic speed in the service of possession football advocated by the former boss of Barca.
Variant of the day in the 1st raise of Man. City, animated in 1-4-4-1:
– Sentinel Gundogan picks left axle + DCD Fernandinho straight axle around opponent's tip
– 2 quartets on each side to initiate the actions, KDB / D. Silva between the lines in the half-space pic.twitter.com/EzGsatEn9a
– Julien Momont (@JulienMomont) October 26, 2019
And this is reflected in the effectiveness of the Jamaican by birth. Admittedly, Raheem Sterling put one more goal than Mane in the Premier League but he also picked up more. In the 48% of shots squared of Senegalese (13/27), the Cityzen answers with a poor 33% (11/33). The proof of a debauchery of energy not always well exploited by a player as talented as unpredictable ball at the foot.
Mane, the soldier of the Reds
He also repositioned on the left wing, Sadio Mane does not evolve in the same register as his rival. Real spearhead of the attack of the Reds when Mohamed Salah had a blow of less well, he carried his team by transplanting in the axis alongside Roberto Firmino. Above all, he delights in the spaces left by the opposing defenses, exhausted by the rhythm of Jurgen Klopp's men. In this transition game desired by the German manager, the Senegalese international enjoys.
Less useful in the construction of the game (only 13 centers), the Sedhiou native is much more decisive in the defensive register than Raheem Sterling. When the Englishman has collected four yellow cards in only 13 fouls (for 13 tackles), the former star of Southampton and Salzburg reveals much more effective and much less messy with a single box in 20 fouls (and 19 tackles).
If Raheem Sterling and Sadio Mane occupy the same position on the field, they each have their style. The duel between Cityzens and Reds this Sunday in Anfield may well allow to know who is the great man of the beginning of the season in the Premier League.
Especially, in case of new high-flying performance of one of the two rivals, the rest of the championship may be upset. It is up to them to prove that they have shoulders wide enough to don the hero's outfit, the one capable of guiding his team towards a championship title.