Manchester City is looking forward to crowning the Champions League for the first time in its history when it faces Chelsea, next Saturday, in the final of the tournament, at the Dragao Stadium, in the Portuguese city of Porto.
Coach Pep Guardiola’s team, for the first time, qualified for the final, and hopes to win the title, counting on many stars, led by Riyad Mahrez.
The Algerian international starred in the last half of the season; And he strongly contributed to qualifying for the final by scoring 3 goals in the victory over Saint-Germain (4-1) in the semi-finals in the aggregate of the two round-trip matches.
Riyad struggled a lot to get to that moment. At a time when some were asking him to leave the Etihad Stadium to attend the bench, Mahrez worked in silence, until he imposed himself on Guardiola’s starting line-up.
This is what Pep referred to, as he said, “Riyad always was at a good level, perhaps at the beginning he did not participate much because we had many players, but step by step he started to gain his position.”
“The last period, Mahrez performed very well, and we hope that he will continue like this,” he added.
Desert Warrior Features
Nobody doubts the abilities of the Desert Warrior; As he is distinguished by the beauty of his touch of the ball and his ability to control it, and he has charming passes and dribbles that amaze the followers.
Riyad is also characterized by flexibility, he can move very smoothly and deceive competitors with his body movements that he may use to delude the defender that he will go in a certain direction but that he is moving towards another.
As for his shots, they are a point of strength that Riyad benefits from, who can shoot the ball at tight and unexpected angles in an amazing way, and has the ability to send balls that are neatly provided by his teammates, to score goals.
But all of these features were lacking in some ferocity and combat, which is what the player has developed greatly, to become more integrated than ever before.
Desert Warrior himself, admitted his great development this season, saying, “I think the current season is the best for me since the beginning of my career. I feel that I have become a complete player, and I am no longer the player who wants to dodge all his rivals.”
He added, “In the recent period, I have become a well-defender, especially since the team’s game plan requires great combat to cut the ball as soon as possible.”
He noted, “At such levels, when you do not defend well, you disappoint your colleagues and harm the team in general.”
How did Mahrez develop?
The Algerian star participated in 46 matches with his team this season, with a total of 3291 minutes, during which he scored 14 goals, and made 8 others, meaning that he contributes a goal every 149 minutes.
Although these numbers seem to be less than what the player achieved last season, who participated in 50 games, scoring 13 goals, and making 16 others, his decision and scoring goals this season seems better, which justifies relying on him more during the last half of the season.
This development becomes clearer when comparing Riyad’s numbers before coming to Manchester City, where the Algerian played 36 matches in the 2017-2018 Premier League season with Leicester, scoring 12 goals, and making 10 others.
During these matches, his shooting percentage reached 2.24%, while the goal percentage expected within 90 minutes was 20%.
But after his 3 years with Manchester City, these numbers have changed, and the percentage of shots on goal exceeded almost 4%, while the percentage of goals expected within 90 minutes reached 50%.
With the expected date approaching, Guardiola hopes that Riyadh will translate his successful season by leading the team to the coronation podiums, especially since it is the title that Pep longs for with a team other than Barcelona, and the Algerian has never won the title that he went to City for.