Manchester City 1 Juventus 2 analysis: Paul Pogba shows Manuel Pellegrini what he missed

Midfielder was the best player on the pitch

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The Independent Football

It was as if a Dreadnaught had crashed into an ice shelf when Paul Pogba met Yaya Touré; the Etihad crowd paused as if anticipating the considerable force of the pair might force pitch beneath to fold.

It happened only once, midway through the first half after Pogba strayed inside from his position on the left of a midfield three. This was a personal contest that mattered not only in the context of the night but also, the future.

Had Manuel Pellegrini decided that Manchester City’s immediate needs were not in attacking areas, which contributed towards Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain sanctioning an outlay of more than £100 million on Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne this summer, then Juventus’s £70 million valuation of Pogba may have been met.

City seek a short-term partner for Touré, someone with the ability to elevate the status of this team to the category of undisputed Champions League title contenders. Yet they also seek a long-term successor, someone young, composed and powerful: a symbol of the club, like a monument that tempts even opponents to stop, stand and admire.

Pogba’s association with Manchester began six years ago when Manchester United moved heaven and earth to sign him from Le Havre. The end, albeit perhaps temporarily, was confirmed in this stadium in 2012 when Sir Alex Ferguson chose, at Pogba's expense, to bring Paul Scholes out of retirement at the age of 37 and select him instead for an FA Cup match which ended in a 3-2 victory.

There was something about intensity and confidence in Pogba warm-up that suggested he was here with a point to prove; being the last outfielder from either squad to return to the changing rooms as he warned of what might follow by punching a flurry of shots past substitute goalkeeper, Neto.

The pressure on Pogba to perform was immense. Without Andrea Pirlo or Arturo Vidal alongside him, Juventus miss maturity, calmness and energy. Pobga was expected to contribute a bit of all those qualities and in turn illustrate why he is the most in-demand midfielder in Europe.

Yet the priorities of Juventus and his manager, Massimiliano Allegri, were different. Having achieved only a point from the first three Serie A games, Allegri admitted a disciplined performance and a relatively modest draw would have been sufficient at this stage.

Pogba revealed that he is not absolutely perfect. His frame is so substantial that he can appear awkward. He is not a typical number 10, and more of an eight. He is not Michel Platini, Roberto Baggio or Alessandro del Piero. Yet he is a brooding presence, capable of delivering brilliance when a moment requires it. Juventus appeared beaten when his delicious cross made the presence of Joe Hart and both City centre backs irrelevant, meaning

Mario Mandžukić needed only to make a reasonable connection for the equaliser.

Pogba prompted a change of flow and with Álvaro Morata’s brilliantly struck second, what seemed an improbable victory for Juventus was made secure. City should know who to buy next.

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