Dias' smooth debut fails to gloss over hapless Mendy show in Bielsa-Guardiola thrill-ride

theworldgame.sbs.com.au
4 min read
fairly difficult
Ruben Dias did well on his Manchester City debut, but he did little to distract from the performance of Benjamin Mendy.
It was no real surprise to see Ruben Dias come straight into the Manchester City team for his Premier League debut at Leeds United.

Pep Guardiola's men were returning to league action for the first time since a humiliating 5-2 defeat at home to Leicester City last weekend – the centre-back pairing of Nathan Ake and Eric Garcia on that occasion were subsequently dropped.

Dias, a Portugal international, arrived from Benfica this week in a deal worth an initial £62million (€68m) following several months of speculation linking City with new centre-backs.

After being comfortably beaten to the Premier League title last term, Guardiola was certain what area of his team needed improving and he has been backed.

At Elland Road on Saturday, Dias did little wrong, but the match did highlight another issue with City's defence.

Dias a cool customer

The second half saw tactics pretty much go out of the window, a particularly novel and entertaining element of the encounter given it was a contest between two of the game's most highly thought of tacticians.

But Dias, put straight into the starting XI, was the embodiment of composure throughout.

He was right into the thick of it as well – Dias had a header from a corner deflected wide after just four minutes and then nodded agonisingly wide from another set-piece soon after.

His distribution, while by no means spectacular, was solid – his 82 per cent success rate an improvement on the 77 posted by Aymeric Laporte, who was the sloppier of the two City centre-backs.

Dias also showed his ease in possession after 34 minutes as he cut out a long ball by controlling with his thigh, before nudging possession off to Rodri despite being put under pressure – while not necessarily…
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