Fortune spent, but Man City still can't compete with Europe's elite
Pellegrini spends a fortune but makes no progress in Europe
(Mario Mandzukic 18)
MAN CITY 0
Manuel Pellegrini has slipped beneath the radar this season.
Jose Mourinho's struggles and the endless tinkering of Louis van Gaal have left the Manchester City manager labouring in the shadows.
But the harsh glare of the Turin spotlight left the Chilean with nowhere to hide.
Juventus' comfortable 1-0 victory yesterday morning (Singapore time) was a harsh reminder of the chasm that remains between Pellegrini's plodders and Europe's elite.
Today is Black Friday, when shoppers around the world will lose their heads and their savings accounts in a demented spending spree. They will still not waste as much money as City's billionaire owners.
With Manchester United no more effective at home to PSV Eindhoven, two halves of the same city are competing to show the most flagrant mismanagement of resources.
By a conservative estimate, the current City squad were assembled at a cost in excess of a billion dollars. It didn't cost that much to assemble the Avengers.
And yet, with the exception of Joe Hart, whose hamstring tweak will further underline his side's limitations if he misses tomorrow's game against Southampton, every City performer failed to scale the heights of their Juve counterparts.
And when did City, the richest club in the world, become so dull?
After watching the irrepressible antics of Barcelona, in both the Clasico and the Champions League, City's pedestrian fare felt like football detox, a hangover after all that hedonism with the Catalan side.
The comparison may seem harsh, but it's fair. City and Barcelona sit at the same financial top table.
On a balance sheet, there is little between them. On a pitch, they are leagues apart.
Juventus, who are slowly finding their form after an early-season blip, coasted to victory.
Alex Sandro gave Bacary Sagna the runaround, Stephan Lichtsteiner had a ring-rusty Gael Clichy dancing on strings and Nicolas Otamendi was needlessly brushed aside for the Juve goal, literally knocked over by Mario Mandzukic.
The midfield triangle of Paul Pogba, Claudio Marchisio and Stefano Sturaro put on the kind of rugged, assured display that City's money can't seem to buy.
Fernandinho and Fernando, at a combined cost of almost £50 million ($70m), competed with the shaky conviction of a kid called on to play with his dad's Sunday pub team.
They were outmuscled, as if physically cowed by Juve's dominant trio.
When Alvaro Morata was put clean through in the second half, striding past a non-existent central midfield and defence, it looked like school football, as if the PE teacher had forgotten to tell the kids what a quick counter-attack was.
A pattern is clearly emerging at City.
Pellegrini pushed Yaya Toure further forward against Juve, but the outcome was no different to the Liverpool fiasco. Apart from a couple of late runs, his impact was negligible.
The Premier League title contenders cannot hold the midfield against quick, industrious opponents any more. Liverpool's counter-pressing killed them. Juve's muscularity floored them.
At one point, Toure dropped back to assist Fernandinho and Fernando in the thankless task of trying to manacle Pogba. As an exercise in futility, it was up there with trying to muzzle a snarling pitbull.
Three against one, the odds were still in Pogba's favour.
Sergio Aguero's lack of fitness can explain away his off night and Kevin de Bruyne is still seeking consistency, but it's hard to find excuses for Jesus Navas.
The Spanish winger's regular selection is an ongoing mystery. His industry cannot be faulted, but his modus operandi is always to sprint for the byeline. Mishit the cross. Return to the halfway line. Repeat, until substituted.
But the most damning aspect of the defeat must be the man who contributed so little in it. Pellegrini gambled almost £50 million on Raheem Sterling being the missing link.
Against Liverpool, he was just missing. Against Juve, he was benched. He came on long enough to execute one of the most comically inept sitter-misses in recent memory. From six metres, Sterling sliced his tap-in wide.
The youngster still has the potential to prevail. At the moment, he's a punchline for Liverpool supporters.
Like his side generally, he's neither here nor there.
City have already qualified for the knockout stages, but if they finish second as expected and face legitimate contenders, they will make another premature exit.
Pellegrini's men are too ponderous and predictable to succeed in Europe.
The inconsistent complexion of the EPL top four has masked City's midfield and defensive flaws, but Juventus finally ripped off the facade.
- JUVENTUS: Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Stefano Sturaro, Claudio Marchisio, Paul Pogba, Alex Sandro (Patrice Evra 78), Mario Mandzukic (Alvaro Morata 55), Paulo Dybala (Juan Cuadrado 82)
- MAN CITY: Joe Hart (Willy Caballero 81), Bacary Sagna, Martin Demichelis, Nicolas Otamendi, Gael Clichy, Fernando, Fernandinho (Fabian Delph 60), Jesus Navas, Yaya Toure, Kevin de Bruyne, Sergio Aguero (Raheem Sterling 69)
- Shakhtar Donetsk 3 Real Madrid 4
- Malmo 0 Paris St Germain 5
Injuries piling up for Citizens
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini remained positive, despite a Champions League defeat by Juventus that proved costly in more ways than one.
City were beaten 1-0 in Turin to lose control of Group D, slipping to second behind the Italian side and facing the prospect of yet another tough draw in the last 16.
But even more worrying was an injury to goalkeeper Joe Hart, who limped off with a hamstring problem after 81 minutes.
Hart later described the injury as "nothing - a little bit tight", but City will learn of the full extent of the issue later.
If the 28-year-old misses tomorrow's clash with Southampton, he would be joining Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Pablo Zabaleta, Wilfried Bony, Samir Nasri and Eliaquim Mangala in the treatment room.
After the game, Pellegrini (above) said: "In this moment, it is impossible to know. He has a problem in his hamstring.
"He has been carrying some problem in his back the last week, so tomorrow we will see with the doctor which is the problem with Joe."
Pellegrini also expects Kompany to be out for at least a fortnight with his calf problem while there is still no definitive news on Silva's ankle injury.
Said the Chilean manager: "Vincent doesn't have any chance to play this week because he's not started running already, so he has two weeks more.
"David improved a little bit more the last two days. He's working with the physio in Manchester.
"We will see. We don't have many days until Saturday but, when we arrive in Manchester, we will have a look."
Pellegrini was upbeat about his team's performance despite the result allowing Juve to take over at the top.
Mario Mandzukic scored the only goal, but both sides spurned a host of other chances. Raheem Sterling, Yaya Toure and Fernandinho all missed good opportunities for City while Fernando had a header touched onto the post.
Pellegrini said: "It's a difficult moment for the team. That's why in this moment, I am not so unhappy in the way we played because we didn't have many chances to make substitutions.
"I think we were very unlucky to lose this game - I think the minimum we deserved was a draw.
"It's not an easy stadium, it's not an easy team, but we couldn't get the result we wanted."
Pellegrini has not given up hope of reclaiming top spot, but his side must beat Borussia Monchengladbach and Juventus will need to lose at Sevilla.
"I think the group is not finished," he said.
Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri is also taking nothing for granted, even though his side have guaranteed progress and have a two-point cushion over City.
He said: "Mr Pellegrini is right. There is still one match left. If we lose and they win, they will go ahead.
"We have to be focused on the Italian championship now, but then get ready for the game against Sevilla." - PA Sport.